Crowdfunding for stem cell treatments may spread misinformation: 4 insights


Insurers will not usually pay for unproven stem cell treatments, so patients seeking those interventions must pay out-of-pocket or use social media to receive donations, a practice known as crowdfunding. Medical crowdfunding campaigns may convey misleading messages about stem cell-based interventions, according to a JAMA study.

Here are four things to know.

1. The study authors identified 408 campaigns — 358 on GoFundMe and 50 on YouCaring — seeking donations for stem cell interventions advertised by 50 U.S. businesses.

2. In total, the campaigns requested $7,439,308 and received pledges for $1,450,011 from 13,050 donors. The campaigns were shared 111,044 times on social media.

3. Only 36 campaigns mentioned risks, and all of those claimed the intervention had low or no risks compared with alternative treatments.

4. The study authors suggest physicians should be aware of the potential role of crowdfunding campaigns in spreading misinformation about stem cell treatments.

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