Understanding the Patterns of Health Information Dissemination on Social Media during the Zika Outbreak

Xinning Gui, Yue Wang, Yubo Kou, Tera Leigh Reynolds, Yunan Chen, Qiaozhu Mei, Kai Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Social media are important platforms for risk communication during public health crises. Effective dissemination of accurate, relevant, and up-to-date health information is important for the public to raise awareness and develop risk management strategies. This study investigates Zika virus-related information circulated on Twitter, identifying the patterns of dissemination of popular tweets and tweets from public health authorities such as the CDC. We leveraged a large corpus of Twitter data covering the entire year of 2016. We analyzed the data using quantitative and qualitative content analyses, followed by machine learning to scale the manual content analyses to the corpus. The results revealed possible discrepancies between what the general public was most interested in, or concerned about, and what public health authorities provided during the Zika outbreak. We provide implications for public health authorities to improve risk communication through better alignment with the general public's information needs during public health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-829
Number of pages10
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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