The Direct to Consumer Stem Cell Market and the Role of Primary Care Providers in Correcting Misinformation

Jennifer R. Arthurs, Charlene M. Martin Lillie, Zubin Master, Shane A. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Introduction: Direct to consumer stem cell and regenerative interventions (SCRIs) for various medical conditions have increased in popularity due to unmet medical needs and the promise of SCRIs to meet those needs. These interventions may have varying levels of safety and efficacy data and many lack sufficient scientific data to be marketed. The direct to consumer SCRI industry has received significant attention due to potential physical, economic, and emotional harms to patients. Patients may seek the counsel of their primary care providers when considering stem cell therapy for their condition. Methods: Here we describe strategies primary care providers can utilize when counseling patients. Results: Although we recommend constructing these discussions around individual patients’ needs, one can utilize a general approach consisting of 4 parts. First, providers should recognize what information the patient is seeking and what is their understanding of stem cell and regenerative medicine. Next, providers should convey evidence-based information at the level of patients understanding so that they are aware of the risks, benefits, and descriptions of possible procedures. Throughout the conversations, attempts should be made to guide patients to a trusted resource that can provide additional information. Finally, providers should make an effort to address misinformation in a way that is nonjudgmental and patient-centered to make the patient feel safe and comfortable. Conclusion: Effectively communicating risk information by primary care providers to patients is important given the harms reported from direct-to-consumer SCRIs. Correcting misinformation remains a priority when discussing SCRI’s. Providers should strive to offer patients with additional resources such as the opportunity for consultation with a specialist or a consultation service dedicated to informing patients about regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - 2022


  • community health
  • health literacy
  • misinformation
  • primary care
  • regenerative medicine
  • stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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