Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – August 31, 2020

Home/Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – August 31, 2020

Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – August 31, 2020

Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – August 31, 2020

This week, two studies were published assessing the quality of online information about COVID-19 being communicated to public audiences.

In the first study, researchers determined there are gaps in the quality of information available online. Websites from educational sources (.edu) and organizational sources (.org) had the highest ratings for communicating COVID-19-related information followed by government sites (.gov) and general communication sites (.com). Websites were evaluated using the DISCERN tool, which looks at six categories: relevance, objectives, information credibility, treatment choices, treatment effect, and treatment and management. Websites could benefit from more clarity, especially regarding its purpose, and it was suggested that informers consider how information may empower individuals instead of confusing or misguiding them before sharing the information with the public.

The second study involved assessing the reading level of official government and public health agency websites of 18 organizations in 15 different countries. Disturbingly, it was determined that all 149 webpages scored above an 8th grade reading level (the highest recommended level) by at least one metric, and almost all (141) scored above the 8th grade reading level by all five metrics used. In the United States, the CDC pages were written at an 11th grade reading level. Websites exceeded recommended reading levels by using multi-syllable words, complex syntax, and technical terminology. By not heeding readability standards, individuals with lower health literacy will suffer more, which exacerbates the disparate effects of the pandemic.

|2020-08-31T08:10:33-04:00August 31st, 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.

Get Involved with Indiana CTSI