This commentary suggests that repeated media exposure to public health crises can lead to negative acute and long-term health consequences; thus, government and health leaders must provide accurate information in responsible ways.
During a health crisis, individuals need accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions. Timely updates from trusted sources (e.g., local health agencies, service providers) are critical for providing risk assessments and recommendations. Strategic traditional and social media use are effective ways for agencies to communicate accurate information during crises. It is imperative that facts be conveyed without sensationalism or graphic images because content, type, and amount of media exposure affect psychological and physical responses to community-wide traumatic events. It is recommended that individuals use trusted government social media sites, such as the CDC and WHO, for the most accurate and least physically and psychologically harmful information. Additionally, health care providers are trusted community agents and therefore, should communicate essential information and concrete suggestions during public health crises.