Health communication

30/08/2021

Since early 2020, communicating risks associated with COVID-19 and providing safety advice have been top priorities for health agencies and governments. With an increase in employees working remotely following the global spread of coronavirus coupled with increasingly sophisticated marketing strategies, global brands unsurprisingly engaged consumers and publics by acknowledging the crisis that engulfed the world. An increase in online marketing was observed in an already existing trend online where hybrids of consumer, brand and product-as-object interacted as equals, using contemporary informal codes of social media discourse and often using irony and humour. However, this paper critically assesses how such important communication responsibilities about coronavirus were taken up by private companies. Online and social media outputs were analysed through a lens of anthropomorphising and posthuman brands. A typology of brand strategies was developed based on engagement and how COVID-19 science, care and prevention were communicated. The paper concludes with a reflection on where this may lead health and environmental communication and what it means for science communicators.

21/06/2021

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global community, politicians as well as scientists increasingly turn to Twitter to share urgent health information using various message styles. The results of our 2x2 between-subject experiment show that if a Tweet is written in lower-case letters, participants perceive the information source as more trustworthy. Furthermore, the information is perceived as more credible, and people are more willing to read the health information and share it via social media. Furthermore, scientists are perceived as possessing more expertise than politicians. However, politicians are perceived as possessing more integrity and benevolence than scientists.

10/05/2021

This study explores the types of actors visible in the digital science communication landscape in the Netherlands, Serbia and the U.K. Using the Koru model of science communication as a basis, we consider how science communicators craft their messages and which channels they are using to reach audiences. The study took as case studies the topics of climate change and healthy diets to enable comparison across countries, topics and platforms. These findings are compared with the results from a survey of over 200 science communication practitioners based in these countries. We find that although traditional media are challenged by the variety of different new entrants into the digital landscape, our results suggest that the media and journalists remain highly visible. In addition, our survey results suggest that many science communicators may struggle to gain traction in the crowded digital ecology, and in particular, that relatively few scientists and research institutions and universities are achieving a high profile in the public digital media ecology of science communication.

12/04/2021

Wikipedia has been accused of being biased against challengers to scientific orthodoxy due to efforts by editors having affinities with the Skeptics movement. Examination of Wikipedia, including entries on fluoridation, the origin of AIDS and vaccination, reveals several characteristics typical of a Skeptics sensibility, including the definition of scepticism, lists of deviant ideas, derogatory labelling of heterodox viewpoints, and categories established without reference to reliable sources.

06/04/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic was the most prominent feature in the media in 2020. This research analyzes the scientific community's perception of the journalistic coverage of the pandemic in the Spanish media. Based on a survey with the participation of 818 respondents, the study revealed that scientists believe that radio did the best job in reporting the pandemic, whereas television did the worst. Among our findings, it is worthwhile to mention that — according to scientists — the media used sensationalistic tones and reports were not particularly accurate nor realistic. Finally, we included the scientific community's recommendations to treat the subject more appropriately.

29/03/2021

In this paper we discuss the SARS-CoV-2-related information coverage (beginning of the epidemic) in Italian digital media narratives. We surveyed the digital articles that reported the highest engagement level. The aim was to identify the most prominent variables (topics, players and news coverage area). Similarly, a discourse analysis was carried out by analyzing the tone used in relation to the variables mentioned. The results show that the most important topics were health, politics and the economy. Headlines appeared to be more likely to have a negative tone, although neutral headlines were the most common. The main feature in digital media headlines was civil society.

14/12/2020

As successive studies have shown that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are ineffective in treating COVID-19, this article investigates how the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, disputes the truth around science to convince the population that these drugs can save lives, preserve jobs and restore economic growth. Using Charaudeau's theory [Charaudeau, 2007, 2010} as a methodological framework, as well as understanding that right-wing populism has embodied post-truth communication as a distinctive feature of contemporary politics, we observed Bolsonaro's weekly Facebook live streams — known as ‘lives’ — for 14 weeks, identifying them as a communicative device that offers Bolsonaro the material conditions to interact directly with his public. Finally, we structured our analysis according to the three most common themes — questioning delays due to an insistence on scientific methodology, overvaluation of personal experiences and emphasis on individuals' freedom of choice — to observe the emotional images and discursive scenarios the Brazilian president stages to produce the intended pathemic effects of his discourse: hope and urgency; trust and distrust; freedom and polarization.

14/12/2020

This research aimed to analyze the quality of the information conveyed through YouTube videos in Portuguese on the use of two medicines suggested for the treatment of COVID-19: chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The ‘Brief DISCERN’ questionnaire was applied to assess the quality of the video content as well as baseline characteristics, such as length, views, likes and dislikes, in a total of 90 videos with almost 4,5 million views. Traditional media accounted for 58,89% of videos. Misleading information was present in most of the videos (63,5%). Despite the ease of access, the videos showed problems in the quality of information.

14/12/2020

In this article, we analysed the 100 most engaging contents about COVID-19 on social networks in Brazil, in March 2020, when the disease officially arrived in the country. Within the infodemic context, we analysed the accuracy of the information and the reliability of the websites that guided the debate. Our results show that misinformation/disinformation accounted for 13.5% of the sample and that their average engagement was greater than the one for the information that could be verified in other sources and in accordance with scientific evidence. We also found that professional websites, especially journalistic ones, predominate among sources. The results point to the need to combine science communication strategies with network communication dynamics.

14/12/2020

This study mainly explores the communication preferences of the public; their level of trust in the government; and the factors affecting their risk/crisis perception amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The key findings —derived from the data collected through an online survey and analysis using descriptive statistics, cross-tabulations, and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), provide insights on how Local Government Units (LGUs) can improve their risk/crisis communication in this current health crisis. Among the key takeaways include the use of social media platforms, like Facebook, and native/local language for effective risk/crisis communication which may, consequently, foster trust building between the LGUs and the public.

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