Mask-wearing as an Unspoken Statement of One’s Identity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Abstract: Interpreting a facemask as an unspoken statement of one’s identity during the COVID-19 pandemic based on product symbolism theory, the present study examines the relationships among one’s trust in a) government, b) the scientific community, and c) the media, perceived similarity with other mask-wearers, and mask-wearing. Based on an online survey, this study found that participants’ trust in these health information sources was positively associated with perceived similarity with other mask-wearers, which then led to a higher level of mask-wearing behavior.

Proposal Title: “Improving Infectious Disease Models with Longitudinal Surveys of Health Decision Making Preferences and Influences.”

Abstract: The objective of this project is to create more reliable infectious disease models that are informed by social science regarding health-related preferences, perceptions and intentions/behaviors. This project will design and implement a national longitudinal survey of the US adult population to identify and develop profiles using health decision-making preferences, risk-benefit perceptions, demographics (including political ideology), health information sources used and trusted, preventative behavior intentions/adoption, and willingness to comply with medical countermeasures. We will then create epidemiological models that incorporate demographic segmentation, health decision making preferences, compliance and compliance intentions, and key psychological constructs to assess the effects on epidemiologic dynamics. Finally, this project involves performing computer simulations to identify the survey measures that most affect desired epidemiologic outcomes, and in turn, would be most useful for informing public health policies and guiding outbreak communications.

Exploring Differences in Crisis Literacy and Efficacy on Behavioral Responses during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Abstract: This study examined the effects of literacy and efficacy on individuals’ protective action taking and information seeking during the early phase of infectious disease outbreaks through a nationally representative survey of 1,164 U.S. adults. New measures of disaster literacy and crisis efficacy were tested. Overall, results revealed that crisis efficacy and organizational efficacy drove protective action taking and information seeking intentions, while health literacy did not. Disaster literacy negatively predicted both protective action advice seeking and information seeking. The findings highlight the importance of strengthening public efficacy and improving relationships between health authorities and the public, which is greatly influenced by the public’s confidence in the health authority’s management of the crisis.

Communication in Context: How Culture, Structure and Agency Shape Health and Risk Communication about COVID-19 in Ghana

Abstract: Despite impressive strides toward proper health education about the pandemic, in resource-limited contexts, health information dissemination occurs within a structural context that restricts the enactment of agency and leads to further marginalization of the most vulnerable. Through observations of and reflections about Ghana’s work in health communication about the COVID-19 pandemic, this essay examines the key processes and outcomes of COVID-19 information dissemination in Ghana, highlighting the structural factors that contribute to health inequities during the pandemic. We argue that although Ghana has been commended continentally and globally for the country’s efforts in containing the virus and securing vaccines to vaccinate its populace, there is evidence of health information access disparities across the country especially in rural communities. In doing so, we increase knowledge about health information needs and gaps, and conclude by making recommendations for public health practitioners in Ghana and similar contexts.

What lessons can we learn from the Covid pandemic about how to communicate public health during a time of crisis?

Glen Nowak was a guest on the Research Comms Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring interviews with “people who are doing inspiring, innovative work in the field of research communications.” The focus of this episode was “What lessons can we learn from the Covid pandemic about how to communicate public health during a time of crisis?”

Looking at young millennials’ risk perception and purchase intention toward GM foods: Exploring the role of source credibility and risk attitude

Sun, Ruoyu (Grady alumna) and Juan Meng. (2022). “Looking at young millennials’ risk perception and purchase intention toward GM foods: Exploring the role of source credibility and risk attitude.” Health Marketing Quarterly, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, early cite date: March 27, 2022. 

Abstract: This study investigated young millennials’ risk perception, benefit perception, and purchase intention toward GM foods by testing the effects of source credibility and risk attitude. By comparing two samples collected in the U.S. (N = 207) and China (N = 242), we found that source credibility positively influenced benefit perceptions of GM foods among Chinese millennial consumers. Results also revealed risk attitude significantly influenced both American and Chinese millennial consumers’ intention to purchase GM foods. Furthermore, a significant interaction effect between source credibility and risk attitude was found on Chinese millennial consumers’ risk perception of GM foods. 

Trusted sources of information, perceived quality in communication, and health knowledge retention: A national study of COVID-19 pandemic in China

Abstract: This research presents the findings from a large-scale national online survey of citizens in Mainland China about the perceived impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the time of lockdown and post-pandemic. The study sheds light on the relationship between the trusted sources of COVID-19 information and the perceived quality in communication by jointly considering their impact on individuals’ knowledge retention of COVID-19 related facts. Results revealed that although individuals in China have relied on several major sources to seek COVID-19 information, the perceived quality of communication in user-generated content on social media remain lowest. Individuals’ knowledge retention on COVID-19 related health communication messages also varied by gender and by age. Implications of these findings for theory and public health practice are also discussed.

The Infectious Disease Threat (IDT) Appraisal Model: How Perceptions of IDT Predictability and Controllability Predict Individuals’ Responses to Risks

Yan Jin, Irina A. Iles, Lucinda Austin, Brooke Liu, and Gregory R. Hancock (Forthcoming). “The Infectious Disease Threat (IDT) Appraisal Model: How Perceptions of IDT Predictability and Controllability Predict Individuals’ Responses to Risks.” International Journal of Strategic Communication.

Abstract: Grounded in the multidisciplinary field of strategic risk and health communication, this study proposed and tested a new infectious disease threat (IDT) appraisal model, focused on mapping individuals’ coping strategy preferences as predicted by their perceived predictability and controllability of the disease. A 2 (predictability: high vs. low) × 2 (controllability: high vs. low) within-subjects online experimental design (N = 1,032 U.S. adults) was employed, in which four IDT scenarios (sexually transmitted infection [STI]; waterborne ID; foodborne ID; vector-borne ID) were shown to participants in a counterbalanced fashion, to examine the effects of IDT appraisals on how individuals cope with outbreaks. Results support the hypothesized model, in which assessments of predictability, controllability, and responsibility of an IDT situation drive individuals’ affect valence, information seeking, and conative reactions in passive and active ways. Findings further provide insights into what information seeking strategies and IDT coping behaviors individuals prefer based on their differential IDT appraisals, thus suggesting how public health authorities and risk communication professionals can optimally communicate about infectious diseases to help individuals understand these situations and respond appropriately.