Endorsement of COVID-19 misinformation among criminal-legal involved individuals in the US


Criminal legal system involvement (CLI) is a critical social determinant of health that lies at the intersection of multiple sources of health disparities. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates many of these disparities, and specific vulnerabilities faced by the CLI population. This study investigated the prevalence of COVID-19-related misinformation, as well as its relationship with COVID-19 information sources used among Americans experiencing CLI. A nationally representative sample of American adults aged 18+ (N = 1,161), including a subsample of CLI individuals (n = 168), were surveyed in February-March 2021. On a 10- item test, CLI participants endorsed a greater number of misinformation statements (M = 1.88 vs. 1.27) than non-CLI participants, p < .001. CLI participants reported less use of government and scientific sources (p = .017) and less use of personal sources (p = .003) for COVID-19 information than non-CLI participants. Poisson models showed that use of government and scientific sources was negatively associated with misinformation endorsement for non-CLI participants (IRR = .841, p < .001), but not for CLI participants (IRR = .957, p = .619). These findings suggest that building and leveraging trust in important information sources are critical to the containment and mitigation of COVID-19-related misinformation in the CLI population.

Associated JCOIN Study Title: AmeriSpeak Brief Opioid Stigma Survey (026)

Publication Year: 2024

Lead Author: Xiaoquan Zhao

Journal: PlosOne

Publication Type(s): COVID