Misinformation in Times of Crisis

Abstract: In times of crisis, when information spreads fast and the public need for information is at its highest, misinformation can play a crucial role in the understanding of a crisis and how it develops. This raises questions about the challenge of correcting opinions and beliefs based on misinformation and how these incorrect perceptions can intensive the crisis and its impact. So far, crisis communication research and research on misinformation have not yet found common ground. This study aims to bridge these two fields of research by experimentally testing the effect of misinformation and corrective information. To test the role of multiple actors (e.g., organization central to the crisis, news media, members of the public), this empirical study compares the effect of the source of information in combination with type of misinformation and corrective information in the context of a crisis and aims to expose the cognitive and affective mechanisms behind the effect of misinformation.

US State Department Training Grant

Abstract: David Hazinski will lead the training of eight Kazakhstani journalists, seven women and one man, from different media. They will be at Grady for five weeks beginning in March to look at new news techniques, receive multimedia training, and learn about democratic institutions.

Factors Affecting Production and Spread of Crisis Information during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Abstract: How to effectively and ethically engage with publics via both traditional and social media in different types of public health risks and crises with different forms of media has been a critical question for both public health information officers and risk communication scholars.  A particular type of health crisis, infectious disease outbreaks (IDOs), can imperil the health of large numbers of individuals and severely threaten the social and economic wellbeing of affected communities.  Integrating the Social-Mediated Crisis Communication (SMCC) model and the Social Amplification of Risk Framework, a new conceptual model, Risk Amplification through Media Spread (RAMS), has been recently developed and published to understand infectious disease triggered public health crisis situations (Vijaykumar, Jin & Nowak, 2015).  By conducting in-depth interviews with regional, state, and national health information officers, this study will utilize the framework of RAMS to provide insider insights into the communicative behaviors and perceptions of public health communicators through examining how IDO information is produced for the public and how traditional and social media are utilized in doing so.  This study will also explore how health communicators perceive the role of social media in IDO crisis information, while combating misinformation spread by various sources, and what ethical considerations they make.

Coping with Outbreaks

Overview: Through an online, nationally representative survey of 1,000 participants, this proposed project will examine how publics perceive and cope with the threat of infectious disease outbreaks, in order to information risk and crisis communications strategies for health organizations in times of infectious disease threat (IDT). This study will explore dimensions of threat appraisal, including how publics perceive the controllability (high v. low), predictability (high v. low), and responsibility (individual v. health organization) of different IDTs. In turn, publics’ cognitive (i.e., information seeking and sharing), affective (i.e., emotion expression), and conative coping strategies (i.e., protective actions) will be analyzed. Additionally, factors including literacy and efficacy will be examined for their influence.

Improving chronic respiratory illness medication use by enhancing pediatric care communication.

Abstract: The objectives of this project are to (1) assess the acceptability of the Problem Recognition in Illness Self-Management (PRISM) tool, a family-provider communication intervention, to improve medication adherence, and (2)examine the feasibility of using a novel method, in the form of a smartphone app, to measure medication adherence inadolescents with chronic respiratory illnesses. Our project uses a mixed-methods approach and will be conducted attwo sites: The University of Georgia – Clinical and Translational Research Unit (CTRU) and Emory University –Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). The results of this study will generate data to address reviewers’ critiques ona previous grant submission (PA-14-335, “Advancing Interventions to Improve Medication Adherence” – R21), andexpand capacity to address multiple medical conditions (asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension).

We Shall Overcome

This research proposal is based upon work done for a Pulitzer Centennial Campfires Initiative grant in collaboration with the Georgia Humanities Council. The focus of this grant is to create a digital exhibit commemorating one hundred years of the Pulitzer Prize awarding work that has contributed significantly to advancing civil rights, especially in the American South. While the scope of the exhibit is largely descriptive, in executing the background research for this project the authors feel that there is potential for contributing meaningful historical research as yet untapped in the key primary sources. Further, a significant part of the exhibit work for this project consists of recording oral histories with key winners and academic experts, and these oral histories represent a unique opportunity for primary source material as well.