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  • Lessons from Ebola: Sources of outbreak information and the associated impact on UC Irvine and Ohio University college students
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Lessons from Ebola: Sources of outbreak information and the associated impact on UC Irvine and Ohio University college students

Source(s):  Public Library of Science (PLoS)

This paper examines the role of outbreak information sources through four domains: knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and stigma related to the 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak. Given the ongoing and unpredictable threat to human health posed by recent emerging infectious diseases (EID), the appearance and exportation of future novel pathogens is expected to continue and, with it, the dependence on reliable risk communication to assist in disease containment.

The findings of the study suggest that news and social media are critical outlets for delivering reliable risk communication information to the student population. Although these media platforms could serve as powerful outbreak communication tools due to its instant and diverse outreach, the information spread must be monitored to ascertain the veracity of material distributed in order to dispel fear and misconceptions. The authors propose the following recommendations:

  • Official government websites (OGW) could utilise social media websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) in order to deliver occasional mass emergency alerts.
  • This should be done by using non-technical language to describe indispensable disease facts, supplemented with educational videos in case of low literacy.
  • OGW should also be aware that the oversaturation of such messages can lead students to lessen their perceived importance of public health emergency information.
  • For this reason, the incorporation of an “emergency preparedness information tab” monitored by OGW in social media websites could be set up.
  • Public health authorities should revamp risk communication strategies to infiltrate into popular sources among students ensuring the dissemination of reliable information during public health emergencies.

PLoS Current Outbreak, August 2016. This document is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.



 
 
  • Lessons from Ebola: Sources of outbreak information and the associated impact on UC Irvine and Ohio University college students
  • Publication date 2016
  • Author(s) Koralek, T.; Runnerstrom, M.G.; Brown, B.J.; Uchegbu, C.; Basta, T.B.
  • Number of pages 18 p.

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