Misbelief: How Loneliness and Social Isolation Lead to Mistrust in Healthcare

Professor Dan Ariely, the breakthrough professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, spoke in length about the crucial role of community in building resilience and motivation to self-care, which can, in turn, preempt a deterioration towards what professor Ariely called “the funnel of misbelief”. Namely, a growing sense of feeling ostracized, which in turn increases an attitude of “misbelief” towards healthcare and health services,  as thoroughly described in Professor Ariely’s latest book “Misbelief – What Makes Rational People Believe Irrational Things”.

Professor Ariely participated in Wisdo webinar titled “How Loneliness and Social Isolation Lead to Mistrust in Healthcare,” which took place on October 16th, 2023. A recording of the hour-long in-depth conversation can be found here. 

Professor Ariely said: “A sense of community and belonging is a powerful draw and is particularly important in cases where people feel disconnected or ostracized from mainstream society. This is especially true when the ostracism comes from their former circles of family and friends— an all-too-common situation for disbelievers. Social networks feed the information bubble, and the social currency of likes and reactions feeds the sense of being a contributing member of the community. In the funnel of misbelief, the social elements are the components that “seal the deal” and make it exceedingly hard to escape.”

Over 150 key stakeholders from across US healthcare participated in the webinar, which ended in describing strategies to prevent Misbelief in health and healthcare by addressing the social elements that contribute to patient and member mistrust rising. including creating a sense of “secure attachment.” Meaning, a healthy, trustworthy social support network that one can rely on rather than replacing that network with online communities that reinforce unhelpful advice and even conspiracy theories, about recommended healthcare services that are meant to improve health and prevent illness. 

Wisdo Health is a peer support platform that enables health plans, employers, and government agencies to address the devastating consequences of loneliness and social isolation on health outcomes, costs, and engagement rates. Several empirical studies with Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members have demonstrated our ability to reduce depression, anxiety, and Loneliness rates while increasing quality of life and even reducing overall cost of care and utilization rates such as ER and urgent care.

In May 2023, the Surgeon General published his watershed report about the Loneliness Epidemic, highlighting what he views as one of the most urgent priorities for US healthcare in 2023 and beyond, which, if not solved – will see mental and physical health continue to deteriorate, as well as engagement with healthcare overall. 

Wisdo Health was thrilled to be the only digital health solution referenced by the Surgeon General, in his milestone Advisory.


Related Posts