SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — It might not surprise you that people can disagree or distrust health messages from health authorities. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that over and over.

But recent research at the University of Minnesota dug into a powerful factor that may contribute to this distrust: a consumption of conflict-centric news and social media posts about health topics. There are important lessons to be learned from this research for everyone — anyone who reads health news — and journalists trying to inform the public.

In the latest episode of "The Health Variant" podcast, host and NewsMD Health Correspondent Jeremy Fugleberg discussed the study with lead researcher Rebekah Nagler, of the University of Minnesota's Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"The Health Variant" digs into health topics important to the region, such as fitness, COVID-19, cannabis and telehealth, introduces listeners to must-know places and people and offers behind-the-scenes reporting.

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NewsMD is a Forum Communications brand focusing on health and health care reporting, primarily in the Upper Midwest, including coverage of industry news, research, trends, technology, economic and policy issues.

"The Health Variant" podcast is available on major podcast apps, including:

For comments or podcast episode topic suggestions, contact Fugleberg at or on Twitter: @jayfug.