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COVID-19 health misinformation: using design-based research to develop a theoretical framework for intervention

Shandell Houlden (Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada)
George Veletsianos (Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada)
Jaigris Hodson (Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada)
Darren Reid (University College London, London, UK)
Christiani P. Thompson (University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 1 February 2022

Issue publication date: 28 June 2022




Because health misinformation pertaining to COVID-19 is a serious threat to public health, the purpose of this study is to develop a framework to guide an online intervention into some of the drivers of health misinformation online. This framework can be iterated upon through the use of design-based research to continue to develop further interventions as needed.


Using design-based research methods, in this paper, the authors develop a theoretical framework for addressing COVID-19 misinformation. Using a heuristic analysis of research on vaccine misinformation and hesitancy, the authors propose a framework for education interventions that use the narrative effect of transportation as a means to increase knowledge of the drivers of misinformation online.


This heuristic analysis determined that a key element of narrative transportation includes orientation towards particular audiences. Research indicates that mothers are the most significant household decision-makers with respect to vaccines and family health in general; the authors suggest narrative interventions should be tailored specifically to meet their interests and tastes, and that this may be different for mothers of different backgrounds and cultural communities.


While there is a significant body of literature on vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation, more research is needed that helps people understand the ways in which misinformation works upon social media users. The framework developed in this research guided the development of an education intervention meant to facilitate this understanding.



Funding: The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [Award number: 440296].


Houlden, S., Veletsianos, G., Hodson, J., Reid, D. and Thompson, C.P. (2022), "COVID-19 health misinformation: using design-based research to develop a theoretical framework for intervention", Health Education, Vol. 122 No. 5, pp. 506-518.



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