Review: Effective health communication – A key factor in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

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Review: Effective health communication – A key factor in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

Review: Effective health communication – A key factor in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

This editorial posits that health communication is a necessary factor in saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and political leaders, health experts, and even the general public have a responsibility to share accurate information.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has developed, the need to provide clear, honest, and valid information has become obvious. In fact, it has been noted that verified information is the most effective prevention against panic, which may cause more harm than the virus itself. Four suggestions are provided for communicating in these uncertain and demanding times:

  1. Declare openly and honestly what is known and what is unknown (stick to the facts)
  2. Communicate consistent and specific information
  3. Demonstrate the ability to make decisions in this uncertain situation with confidence and honesty
  4. Acknowledge emotions

When communicating specific behavior change recommendations, it important to recognize how those recommendations are framed to encourage adherence among individuals and communities. Four evidence-based recommendations are offered:

  1. Create a mental model about how contamination works and how this can be prevented
  2. Communicate the need to change one’s environment to be able to follow recommendations (e.g., have hand sanitizer easily accessible)
  3. Appeal to the collective action and “we-are-in-it-together” spirit
  4. Stress the importance of continuing recommended behaviors long term

This is the first time in history that political leaders and health experts have had to be so extensively involved in such a unique situation. Communication around measures taken can improve the physical and mental health of many cases.

|2020-05-04T10:39:47-04:00May 4th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|0 Comments

About the Author: Maria Brann

Maria Brann
Dr. Maria Brann, PhD, MPH, is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and affiliate faculty with the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University. She explores the integration of health, interpersonal, and gender communication. Her translational focus and mixed methods approach are woven throughout her health vulnerabilities research, which advocates for more effective communication to improve people’s health and safety. Her primary research interests focus on the study of women’s and ethical issues in health communication contexts and promotion of healthy lifestyle behaviors to improve personal and public health and safety. She researches communication at both the micro and macro levels and studies how communication influences relationships among individuals and with the social world.

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