Use of social media by local public health agencies and variation by agency characteristics
Data: Data were drawn from the National Association of County and City Health Officials' (NACCHO) 2010 Profile Study, administered to 2,656 LHDs. A module consisting of questions on social media was also administered to a nationally representative sample of 625 LHDs.
Methods and Results: Our bivariate analysis included Chi-Square test as well as Somers-D test for the nominal variables and Kendal's Tau-b for the ordinal variables. Our findings indicate that the two most commonly used social medias by LHDs are Facebook (27.9%) and Twitter (12.9%).
Our bivariate analysis indicated that 30.9% locally governed LHDs used Facebook whereas 16.5% of state governed and 21.5% of LHDs with shared governance used this social media. A significantly greater proportion of LHDs with one or more local boards of health (30.3%) used Facebook than LHDs with no local board of health (20.1%). Moreover, 41% of LHDs with an epidemiologist on staff used Facebook compared with 22.4% of LHDs with no epidemiologist. Significant variation existed in the use of Facebook by the size of the population served by the LHDs. Having an epidemiologist mattered, as 27% of LHDs with an epidemiologist on staff used Twitter compared with 9% of LHDs with no epidemiologist. Significant variation existed in the use of Twitter by the size of the population served by LHDs. Over 35.9% of LHDs serving a population size of 500,000+ use Twitter whereas only 6.3% serving a population of less than 25,000, and 7.7% serving a population of 50,000-99,999 used Twitter. A higher proportion of locally governed LHDs used Twitter than state governed LHDs, 14% and 10% respectively.
Public Health Implication: Social media use by health departments is an innovative platform of communication to the populations they serve.
Conclusion: In 2010 (the latest data collected) a substantial proportion of LHDs used some forms of social media. We expect that the usage has increased in the past couple of years.
Learning Areas:Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health
Identify the top social media used by local health departments (LHDs) Differentiate key characteristics that influence the use of social media by LHDs
Keyword(s): Health Information, Health Departments
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a writer for a southeast region funded grant specifically for providing mammography services to uninsured women at or below the federal poverty guidelines. I am a MPH student with an emphasis in health management and policy. My special interests include policy-making, informatics research, and women's health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.