Theses Master's

The Use of Social Media in Risk Communication during COVID-19: An Analysis of Stakeholders’ Messages on Social Media

Utami, Denita

Introduction: As a global health crisis, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected various aspects of life. Unlike previous global pandemics, individuals nowadays are more interconnected with instantaneous access to a flow of information, including access to social media. Risk communication is one of the key pillars of outbreak communication, which requires an in-depth understanding of key groups and stakeholders to ensure effective risk communication responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media can be useful for risk communication as it allows both experts and the public to quickly spread and gather information, however, it can also be detrimental as it generates widespread fear and misinformation.

Objective: This thesis aims to analyze the use of social media for risk communication during COVID-19. This includes how different types of organizations have been using social media, key trends of social media campaigns, lessons learned, and actionable suggestions to effectively utilize social media for risk communication.

Methods: A literature search was conducted starting in February 2020. The search was limited to articles published from January 1 to December 31, 2020 in PubMed, Scopus, Embase, and Web of Science to identify relevant articles to be included in the analysis. Only articles in English are included in the review.

Results: Based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 26 articles met the criteria of the review. The majority of the studies discuss the use of social media for risk communication of COVID-19 among government leaders and agencies, with a total of 16 studies retrieved. Most studies analyze the use of Twitter, followed by Facebook and local social media platforms. The frequency of posting and message trends highly correspond to the stages of the pandemic and related risk perception.

Conclusion: The pandemic has further elucidated the need for clear communication between stakeholders and the public in response to a public health emergency. This study has shown that government agencies are important stakeholders in risk communication on social media. News media companies and outlets, healthcare organizations, healthcare professionals, transportation services, celebrities, influencers, and youth groups are also among the most prominent stakeholders in COVID-19 risk communication on social media. Insufficiency, incongruency, and inconsistency across critical message types in communicating COVID-19 were prevalent in social media. This should further be improved to optimize potential public health communication strategies on social media.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Schiavo, Renata
M.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
April 28, 2021