Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – September 14, 2020

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Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – September 14, 2020

In this article, health risk communication scholars use systems theory to analyze U.S. government communication during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer recommendations for local, national, and international governments to effectively communicate with the public:

  • Actively seek and respond to relevant information to identify risks and best response strategies
  • Develop strong trusted relationships with counterparts to coordinate emergency responses
  • Build cooperative relationships by sharing relevant information to influential groups involved in the response
  • Communicate clearly and transparently to avoid misinformation, confusion, and/or fear
  • Centralize information management to disseminate the best scientific information
  • Establish dissemination strategies to control flow and content of shared information
  • Create a direct communication channel with the public to receive feedback
  • Construct a holistic health risk communication system connecting local, federal, and international governments with the public
  • Protect minority groups from discrimination due to stigma and prejudice
  • Guide public policy decisions to match demands related to the spread and risk of infection

In this letter to the editor, an international group of scholars notes how simplistic and vague messages and polarizing narratives have led to misconceptions and conflicting messages about mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic. To gain public support for the uptake of non-pharmaceutical behaviors, messages about benefit, risks, and uncertainties are essential. It is important to communicate how to properly wear a mask, when to wear a mask, and what type of mask to wear. Clarity, while acknowledging nuances and lingering uncertainties, is needed to build trust and encourage compliance.

In this article, researchers use a social network analysis of conversations on Twitter to understand public discourse about COVID-19. They learned that the conversations are highly decentralized, fragmented, and loosely connected, which is problematic for effective dissemination of public health messages. The researchers argue that a social network analysis of conversations on social media is essential for public health officials to plan, monitor, and evaluate risk communication efforts to understand how best to address competing conversations and misinformation that may deter health promotion efforts. This extended view moves beyond basic quantitative social media metrics and text or content analyses, which may be misleading, to help public health officials understand who is mediating information and what they can do to fight the COVID-19 infodemic.

|2020-09-14T08:28:02-04:00September 14th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Weekly Review: Communicating COVID-19 – September 14, 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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