Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – March 22, 2021

Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – March 22, 2021

Because COVID-19 affects people differently, public health efforts should focus on increasing COVID-19 safety messaging, testing, vaccination, and other prevention efforts for people who are young, non-White, Hispanic, and working in COVID-19 clinical units, a study published in Public Health Reports concluded. Addressing disparities in communication and care are essential. For example, a different study found that public health officials and health care providers must engage in targeted health messaging to address mental health and access concerns of rural dwellers. Compounding the distinctions found with rural Americans, this study demonstrated that rural Latinos, in particular, are wary of receiving news via social media, and therefore, public health officials should use different channels with targeted messages about COVID-19 safety when reaching out to this population. Another study explored the experiences of Latinx individuals who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 and found that they had a lot of misinformation, which led to many unfounded fears and delayed action to seek care. The authors recommend that public health officials work to mitigate this misinformation to allay any fears as well as address health care access challenges to protect the economically disadvantaged. Additionally, messaging should target other at-risk groups such as adolescents and youth. Contrary to popular belief, this study showed that adolescents and youth are not less susceptible to COVID-19, and therefore, public health messaging should target these younger groups to help curb the pandemic.

Unlike some other groups, younger populations are likely to turn to social media for information so this might be a useful communication channel for reaching this target. For example, this study explored TikTok, an emerging social media platform, and recommended public health agencies explore creating tailored health messages to engage and inform community members, as the video format is engaging for viewers. They offer several suggestions for using this social media platform. Even if not using video formatting, this study argued using narrative evidence to produce effective social media campaigns and offered criteria for evaluating narrative’s effectiveness. Finally, this study suggests that there is significant opportunity for public health agencies to use social media to engage people better during the pandemic.

|2021-03-22T08:38:02-04:00March 22nd, 2021|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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