Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – October 5, 2020

Misinformation on Social Media

This month, the American Journal of Public Health published a special issue on health misinformation on social media. Below are just a few highlights from the issue:

Strategies for Enhancing Favorable Responses to COVID-19 Vaccine

With the rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, addressing misinformation about vaccines is vital. In this editorial, public health professionals argue that vaccine literacy and hesitancy must be addressed now to increase uptake once a vaccine becomes available. Specifically focusing proactive and coordinated communication strategies to address misinformation is key. Messages should seek to increase knowledge about vaccines, support critical evaluation of health information, strengthen numeracy skills, and instill appreciation for the complexity of scientific research. Tailoring consistent messages from providers, media sources, schools, and community programs are vital. Combatting online conspiracy theories and reinforcing health-promoting socials via social media are also needed.

As people begin looking for information about vaccines, it is important to be aware of how risk perceptions and uncertainty affect people’s information-seeking behaviors. This article presents results of a two-wave survey assessing how uncertainty affects perceptions of severity, susceptibility, and emotional appraisals. Researchers determined that health risk communication practitioners must consider messages of hope when designing preventive health messages. To increase effectiveness, messages need to reduce uncertainty for those who perceive themselves to have a high level of susceptibility. This prompts people to seek information, which typically leads to better outcomes.

As pro- and anti-vaccine arguments increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand the context and appeal of the anti-vaccine movement to better communicate confidence and reassurance on both informative and emotional levels for vaccine uptake. Authors of this commentary argue that public health officials must adapt their approaches to raising awareness by using storytelling over data presentation to appeal and debunk logical fallacies and other problems raised by anti-vaxxers.

|2020-10-05T08:28:09-04:00October 5th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – October 5, 2020

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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