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Apr 20, 2022 Practice Insight
Science communication during COVID-19: when theory meets practice and best practices meet reality

by Christopher D. Wirz, Ashley Cate, Markus Brauer, Dominique Brossard, Lori DiPrete Brown, Kaiping Chen, Pauline Ho, D. Gavin Luter, Haley Madden, Sara Schoenborn, Bret Shaw, Cory Sprinkel, Don Stanley and Gail Sumi

This paper synthesizes the efforts of an interdisciplinary, University-convened communication task force in the U.S. that used science communication theory to develop an effective strategy during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. We outline recommendations for researchers and practitioners who are, or are interested in, implementing theory-based communication practices while describing how we dealt with the unforeseen realities we faced. Overall, we recommend that effective public health and science communication should be based on theory and formative evaluation while relying on established infrastructure, real-time data, a deep understanding of intended target audiences, and intentional coordination with community partners.

Volume 21 • Issue 03 • 2022

Sep 30, 2020 Article
How public perceptions of social distancing evolved over a critical time period: communication lessons learnt from the American state of Wisconsin

by Kaiping Chen, Luye Bao, Anqi Shao, Pauline Ho, Shiyu Yang, Christopher D. Wirz, Dominique Brossard, Markus Brauer and Lori DiPrete Brown

Understanding how individuals perceive the barriers and benefits of precautionary actions is key for effective communication about public health crises, such as the COVID-19 outbreak. This study used innovative computational methods to analyze 30,000 open-ended responses from a large-scale survey to track how Wisconsin (U.S.A.) residents' perceptions of the benefits of and barriers to performing social distancing evolved over a critical time period (March 19th to April 1st, 2020). Initially, the main barrier was practical related, however, individuals later perceived more multifaceted barriers to social distancing. Communication about COVID-19 should be dynamic and evolve to address people's experiences and needs overtime.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020