Review: Enhancing global health communication during a crisis: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

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Review: Enhancing global health communication during a crisis: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

Review: Enhancing global health communication during a crisis: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

This article expands existing health communication principles based on lessons learned from the unique challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers adapted key principles of health communication from the 2014 Ebola crisis and the mad cow disease outbreak in the mid-1990s in light of the challenges that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three general areas of capacity building for health communication have emerged from the ongoing pandemic:

  • Be proactive (compete for attention, establish trusted leadership, fight false information)
  • Plan ahead, but acknowledge uncertainty (consider growing scientific evidence)
  • Focus on people (be aware of health and media literacy)

Health communicators must take into consideration the new challenges not seen before in previous health crises: an unprecedented infodemic, communication of risk and uncertainty, the instantaneous nature of social media and its effect on health-information behaviors, the relationship between health literacy and media literacy, the effects of the pandemic on other mental and physical health issues, and the need for flexibility as the pandemic changes. In light of these new challenges, the authors proposed the following principles for effective health communication:

  • Set shared goals
  • Establish coordinated responses
  • Devise a communication strategy
  • Implement the communication plan
  • Be ready to adapt

The article provides a checklist of communication practices for each of these principles. It is essential for health communicators to be proactive in addressing these new challenges to increase societal COVID-19 resilience.

|2020-07-13T11:33:16-04:00July 13th, 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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