Misinformation and Disinformation in Cancer: An Intervention Development Award

People using computers

Background and Aims

Despite increasing survival rates associated with evidence-based medical advances, false, partially false, or misleading information about cancer treatments are common. Misinformation is “information that is false, but not created with the intention of causing harm”, whereas, disinformation is “information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country.”

Belief in health misinformation/disinformation may negatively alter a person’s cancer trajectory by influencing their medical decision making. For instance, use of alternative cancer therapies, defined as ‘non-mainstream practices used in place of conventional medicine, can complicate the doctor-patient and doctor-carer relationships, and pose serious risk to health and life. Initial research suggests that the mortality rate for people with cancer can be up to 5 times higher among those taken in by misinformation/disinformation and who end up using alternative cancer therapies. Hence, it is incumbent on us to develop new ways to ensure that patients are empowered to protect themselves from being manipulated to make decisions by those promoting false and misleading information about cancer. 

In the Republic of Ireland, there is limited available information on the patterns of alternative cancer therapy use. A key priority of the Irish Cancer Society Strategy (2020 - 2025) is to “increase the number of people surviving cancer and improve the quality of that survival.” 

We are already funding research to examine the extent of the challenge in our community and hence we now wish to examine and quantitate the opportunities to help those impacted by cancer and their loved ones protect themselves from misinformation/disinformation that can have negative economic, psychological, and health consequences. With this in mind, the purpose of this call is to fund an intervention development study designed to better prepare those affected by a cancer diagnosis and reduce the numbers and extent to which they are potential victims of those touting false and misleading claims.


It is the intention of the Irish Cancer Society to provide funding for one grant, subject to grant proposals meeting the required standard as assessed by external review. The award will provide funding of up to €65,000 for a project of up to a maximum of 18 months duration.

How to apply 

Applications must be completed and submitted through the Irish Cancer Society Gateway Grant Tracker online system. In order to submit an online application you are required to register at the following address: https://grants.cancer.ie.

Deadline for applications: 3.00pm, Tuesday 10 November 2020

Guidelines and Documents
Documents to download