New Student Research on How News Affects Support for Climate Adaptation

News media are the public’s primary source about risks such as climate change, but traditional journalistic approaches to climate change have failed to build support for collective social responses. Solutions journalism, an emerging practice focused on credible stories about responses to societal problems, may offer an alternate approach. From an online experiment with a convenience sample of U.S. undergraduates (N = 348), we found that solutions journalism stories were positively associated with perceived behavioral control, which mediated support for collective action for climate change adaptation. Additionally, attribution of responsibility to individuals and government, participant hope, and eco-anxiety were associated with support for collective action. Findings extend our understanding of how risk communication affects policy support for climate change adaptation and suggest that solutions journalism may allow journalists to communicate climate change’s danger without depressing support for social action to mitigate its effects.

Thier, K. & Lin, T. (2022). How solutions journalism shapes support for collective climate change adaption. Environmental Communication. https://doi.org//10.1080/17524032.2022.2143842

xiaoli nan

CHRC Director and Assistants Publish Systematic Review of Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Health Misinformation

Health misinformation poses a significant threat to public health. Understanding why people believe health misinformation and who is at risk is crucial for developing effective interventions to reduce the harmful impact of misinformation. We conducted a systematic review of published empirical research that examined individual differences in susceptibility to health misinformation, focusing on the psychological, demographic, and behavioral correlates of health misinformation susceptibility. To guide our review on psychological correlates, we developed an integrative psychological model of susceptibility to health misinformation based on one’s ability and motivation to reason. We identified 47 publications (61 empirical studies) that met our criteria. Our review suggests that subject knowledge, literacy and numeracy, analytical thinking (vs. intuitive thinking), and trust in science confer strong resistance to health misinformation, whereas conspiracy thinking, religiosity, conservative ideology, and conservative party identification are associated with more susceptibility to health misinformation. Demographically, older age and higher educational attainment predict less susceptibility to health misinformation, whereas racial minority status is associated with greater susceptibility. Behaviorally, relying on health professionals or scientists as information sources predicts less susceptibility to health misinformation, whereas social media use is associated with greater susceptibility. Susceptibility to health misinformation is driven by multiple psychological processes. Interventions for reducing the spread and impact of health misinformation should be tailored to the psychological mechanism underlying susceptibility to health misinformation. Limited resources should be used to support interventions targeted at individuals at risk.

Nan, X., Wang, Y., & Thier, K. (2022). Why do people believe health misinformation and who is at risk? A systematic review of individual differences in susceptibility to health misinformation. Social Science & Medicine, 314, 115398. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115398

CHRC Assistants, Director, and Affiliate Faculty Publish Research on Black Americans’ COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance

Yuan Wang

CHRC Assistants and Director Author Chapter Defining Health Misinformation

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), we are entering an age of “infodemics,” with misinformation leading to mistrust in health authorities, increasing risk-taking behaviors, and undermining public health responses (WHO 2020). While concerns are rapidly growing about the prevalence and harmful impact of health misinformation (Nan, Wang, and Thier 2021), scholars have not clearly defined health misinformation or its components. Without a clear definition and shared agreement on what constitutes health misinformation, comparisons across studies purportedly about health misinformation will remain challenging, hampering our efforts to understand this phenomenon, assess its effects, and design effective interventions. However, defining misinformation in the first place is exceedingly difficult, partly because the benchmarks we often use to diagnose misinformation (e.g., scientific evidence, expert consensus) are sometimes moving targets (Vraga and Bode 2020). In light of the ongoing debate about the nature of misinformation and the urgent need for a clear definition of health misinformation, this chapter aims to critically review current definitions of health misinformation, identify key challenges in defining health misinformation, and finally propose a tentative, unifying definition of health misinformation to guide future research. We conclude by discussing directions for future efforts in refining the definition for health misinformation.

Wang, Y., Thier, K., & Nan, X. (2022). Defining health misinformation. In A. Keselman, C. A. Smith & A. Wilson (Eds.), Combating Online Health Misinformation: A Professional’s Guide to Helping the Public (pp.3-16). Rowman & Littlefield.

Scoping Review of COVID-19 Health Communication Research Authored by CHRC Student and Director

This article reports a scoping review of emerging research on COVID-19 health communication. We reviewed and analyzed 206 articles published in 40 peer-reviewed communication journals between January 2020 to April 2021. Our review identified key study characteristics and overall themes and trends in this rapidly expanding field of research. Our review of health communication scholarship during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that health communication scholars have risen to the challenges and interrogated important issues in COVID-19 communication at the individual, group, organizational, and societal levels. We identified important gaps that warrant future research attention including experimental research that seeks to test the causal effects of communication, studies that evaluate communication interventions in under-served populations, research on mental health challenges imposed by the pandemic, and investigations on the promise of emerging communication technologies for supporting pandemic mitigation efforts.

Lin, T., & Nan, X. (2022). A Scoping Review of Emerging COVID-19 Health Communication Research in Communication and Media Journals. Health Communication, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2091916

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.

https://doi.org/10.1177/20501579211054929

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 […]