Researchers at the University of South Florida recently conducted a nationwide survey in partnership with Cyber Florida to better understand how people use social media to stay informed about COVID-19, consult on credible scientific information sources, and fact-check pandemic-related information.
Social networking sites play an increasingly critical role in the dissemination of public health information and disease prevention guidelines. However, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter pose challenges for public health officials and clinical health care providers. The public has grown more reliant on social media to stay informed during times of crisis, however, the information they receive comes from a variety of sources that are not always official or objective in nature.
In order to effectively communicate during public health emergencies, it is increasingly critical for health professionals to understand how patients gather health-related information on the internet and adjudicate the merits of such information.
The team of USF researchers surveyed 1,003 American adults in order to better understand how heavily they have relied on social media and the specific ways in which they have used social media to learn about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the survey respondents, more than 76% stated that they have relied on social media at least “a little” to stay informed about the COVID-19 pandemic, while just under half (45.6%) reported that they have relied on social media “a lot.” Further, 59.2% of respondents indicated that they read information about COVID-19 on social media at least once per week, while roughly one-third (32.2%) do so every day.
To read the full report, visit https://www.jmir.org/2021/6/e29802