Yuan Wang

CHRC Assistant Co-Authors Study About COVID-19 Vaccine Twitter Discourse

Wang, Y., & Chen, Y. (2022). Characterizing discourses about COVID-19 vaccines on Twitter: a topic modeling and sentiment analysis approach. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538068.2022.2054196

Evidence-based health communication is crucial for facilitating vaccine-related knowledge and addressing vaccine hesitancy. To that end, it is important to understand the discourses about COVID-19 vaccination and attend to the publics’ emotions underlying those discourses. We collect tweets related to COVID-19 vaccines from March 2020 to March 2021. In total, 304,292 tweets from 134,015 users are collected. We conduct a Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) modeling analysis and a sentiment analysis to analyze the discourse themes and sentiments. This study identifies seven themes of COVID-19 vaccine-related discourses. Vaccine advocacy (24.82%) is the most widely discussed topic about COVID-19 vaccines, followed by vaccine hesitancy (22.29%), vaccine rollout (12.99%), vaccine facts (12.61%), recognition for healthcare workers (12.47%), vaccine side effects (10.07%), and vaccine policies (4.75%). Trust is the most salient emotion associated with COVID-19 vaccine discourses, followed by anticipation, fear, joy, sadness, anger, surprise, and disgust. Among the seven topics, vaccine advocacy tweets are most likely to receive likes and comments, and vaccine fact tweets are most likely to receive retweets. When talking about vaccines, publics’ emotions are dominated by trust and anticipation, yet mixed with fear and sadness. Although tweets about vaccine hesitancy are prevalent on Twitter, those messages receive fewer likes and comments than vaccine advocacy messages. Over time, tweets about vaccine advocacy and vaccine facts become more dominant whereas tweets about vaccine hesitancy become less dominant among COVID-19 vaccine discourses, suggesting that publics become more confident about COVID-19 vaccines as they obtain more information.

Sun Young Lee

CHRC Research Group Publishes Study on Visual Framing of Disasters

Check out this new study from Assistant Professor Sun Young Lee (pictured), alum Dr. Jungkyu Rhys Lim, and candidate Duli Shi!

Lee, S. Y., Lim, J. R., & Shi, D. (2022). Visually Framing Disasters: Humanitarian Aid Organizations’ Use of Visuals on Social Media. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1177/10776990221081046

The present study seeks to systematically describe how humanitarian aid organizations use visuals in their natural disaster-related social media messages and to analyze their effects on social media engagement. Using Rodriguez and Dimitrova’s (2011) four levels of visual framing, we performed a content analysis of 810 tweets from 38 aid organizations. The results showed that, overall, the organizations’ visuals had an emphasis on victims and on disaster relief efforts. The most effective types of visual framing, however, were not those the aid organizations most commonly used. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications.

Victoria Ledford

New CHRC Alumna and Student Research on Messages and Opioid Use Disorders Published in Health Communication

Ma, Z., Ma, R., & Ledford, V. (2022). Is My Story Better Than His Story? Understanding the Effects and Mechanisms of Narrative Point of View in the Opioid Context. Health Communication, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2037198

Sharing the stories of people whose lives are impacted by Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs) can be a promising strategy to reduce stigma and increase support for beneficial public policies. Since a story can be told from a first-person or third-person point of view (POV), this study sought to (1) determine the relative persuasive effects of narrative POV and (2) identify the underlying psychological mechanisms, including character identification and psychological reactance, of such narratives. A one-way between-subjects experiment was conducted among a college student sample (N = 276). Narrative POV was manipulated by describing a college student’s OUD experience from either the first- or third-person POV. Findings demonstrated that POV did not influence identification but had a significant effect on reactance. Specifically, the first-person (vs. third-person) POV narrative led to lower reactance, which was associated with participants’ decreased desire to socially distance themselves from people with OUDs and stronger support for public health-oriented policies regarding OUDs. This study sheds light on the mixed findings revealed in the literature and has practical importance in health message design in the current opioid epidemic.

Yan Qin

CHRC Alum, Student, and Faculty Publish New Article in Mobile Media & Communication

Qin, Y., Wang, X., & Kang, N. (2021). A meta-analysis of the overall effect of mHealth physical activity interventions for weight loss and the moderating effect of behavioral change theories, techniques, and mobile technologies. Mobile Media & Communication, 20501579211054929

Mobile technologies offer the potential for efficacious and cost-effective lifestyle interventions for weight loss. Extant research indicates that mobile health (mHealth) lifestyle interventions are potentially effective and practical methods of weight loss, but it is less known what intervention characteristics are associated with weight loss effects. This meta-analysis examined the effectiveness of mHealth physical activity interventions for weight loss compared with non-technology/usual care interventions and the moderating effects of behavioral change theories, techniques, and mobile technologies. A total of 24 studies were identified based on inclusion criteria. Weight loss was the primary outcome. The results showed a medium significant effect size (d = 0.395; 95% CI= 0.243, 0.546; Z = 5.107, p < 0.001; N = 5146) favoring mHealth interventions. Interventions were significantly more effective when wearable devices were used (QB = 4.102, df = 1, p < 0.05) and when feedback was employed (QB = 4.566, df = 1, p < 0.05). The implications for future mHealth intervention design are discussed.


Sumin Fang

CHRC Faculty and Alum Publish New Article in Communication Studies

Fang, S., & Aldoory, L. (2021). Acquaintance, Coach, or Buddy?: Perceived Relationships between Chinese Women and Mobile Fitness Technology, Communication Studies, DOI: 10.1080/10510974.2021.2011351 Chinese women are among the most frequent users of fitness technology, and yet the least likely to adhere to a fitness regimen. Little research has been done on preference, use, and perceptions of […]

Brooke Liu

Professor Brooke Fisher Liu Receives FDA Grant to Study How to Combat Health Misinformation

Professor Brooke Fisher Liu and researchers at the University of Georgia are partnering with the FDA to develop and test messaging strategies to combat misinformation during public health emergencies. Learn more here.

xiaoli nan

CHRC Director and Alums Publish New Article in Health Communication

Nan, X., Iles, I. A., Yang, B., & Ma, Z. (2021). Public Health Messaging during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: Lessons from Communication Science. Health Communication, 1-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that effective public health messaging is an indispensable component of a robust pandemic response system. In this article, we review decades […]

Faculty, Graduate Students, and Doctoral Program Alum Publish Chapters in the Updated Routledge Handbook of Health Communication

CHRC faculty and graduate students, and a Maryland alum have co-authored two chapters in the revised Routledge Handbook of Health Communication (3rd edition). Professor Xiaoli Nan and doctoral candidates Yuan Wang and Kathryn Thier co-authored “Health Misinformation.” Assistant Professor Sarah A. Aghazadeh, a graduate of the doctoral program in communication and now at Auburn University, and Professor Dr. Linda Aldoory co-authored “Inroads into Healthy Decision Making: The Role of Health Literacy in Health Communication.” Details below.

Nan, X., Wang, Y., & Thier, K. (2021). Health misinformation. In T. Thompson & N. Harrington (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Health Communication (3rd edition). Routledge.

Research on health misinformation has grown rapidly as concerns about the potential harmful effects of health misinformation on individuals and society intensify amid a “post-truth” era. In this chapter, we provide a broad overview of current research and evidence concerning the many facets of health misinformation, including its sources, prevalence, characteristics (both content and diffusion features), impact, and mitigation. We conclude that health misinformation originates from many sources, most notably mass and social media; is fairly prevalent, both in interpersonal and mediated settings; and tends to feature negative sentiments, anecdotal evidence, and anti-science narratives. Although there is no conclusive evidence that health misinformation spreads more broadly than scientific information, health misinformation reliably leads to misperceptions on health issues. Efforts to mitigate the impact of health misinformation show early promise in correcting misperceptions. We offer several directions for future research.


Aghazadeh, S. A. & Aldoory, L. (2021). Inroads into healthy decision making: The role of health literacy in health communication. In T. Thompson & N. Harrington (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Health Communication (3rdedition). Routledge.

Health literacy, commonly defined as the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand health information, serves as an important determinant of healthy decisions and is central to the work of health communication researchers and practitioners. This chapter outlines the state of the field of health literacy: its definitions, models, measurements, and central debates at the intersection of health communication, medicine, and public health. The chapter includes an example of an applied intervention where a health literacy campaign was implemented in a community. It considers future research directions to position health communication scholars at the front lines of health literacy research, with the hopes of encouraging scholarship that inspires social change, community approaches, and attention to digital media contexts.


xiaoli nan

Professor Nan Receives The Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award

xiaoli nan

Congratulations to Dr. Xiaoli Nan from the University of Maryland for being named the 2020 Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication!

The Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award was established in Dr. Donohew’s name in 1998 to recognize outstanding research contributions to the health communication field made during the biennium preceding each conference. The list of award recipients includes some of the most highly funded and recognized communication scholars in the world, including Seth Noar, Jeff Niederdeppe, Rick Street, Mohan Dutta, Gary Kreps, Kim Witte, and others.

Dr. Nan will receive the award at the upcoming Kentucky Conference for Health Communication in April: https://comm.uky.edu/kchc/

News from: https://comm.umd.edu/spotlight/GRID

CHRC Holds Workshop on Meta-Analysis of Communication Research

Photo: CHRC holds the Workshop on Meta-Analysis of Communication Research

On February 21th, 2020, the Center for Health and Risk Communication held the Workshop on Meta-Analysis of Communication Research. Given by Dr. Seth Noar from the University of North Carolina, the full-day workshop provides a step-by-step guide of how to undertake a meta-analysis. Nineteen participants, including COMM faculty and graduate students, joined this workshop.