Online Program

Use of Facebook by Local Health Departments: Activity and Focus Areas

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rakhi Trivedi, M.P.H., B.D.S., Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Gulzar Shah, PhD, MStat, MS, Department of Health Policy and Management, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Introduction: Use of online social-media such as Facebook, Twitter etc., is not confined to personal use. There is a great potential for public health professionals at local health departments (LHDs) to utilize a popular platform such as Facebook, to promote health, and provide updates to people in their jurisdictions about current health issues.

Objective: Assess the usage of Facebook by LHDs, their level of activity, and to identify the areas in which LHDs are focusing through Facebook.

Method: Using NACCHO’s 2013 Profile of LHD study, for which a module was administered to a sample of 625 LHDs, we determined that 167 LHDs used Facebook. We then followed the Facebook profiles of these 167 LHDs over a period of 4 months and transcribed the content information. Finally we performed analysis on the transcripts for this study.

Result: Out of the 167 LHDs indicating they used Facebook, we were able to find only 101 with an active profile. In terms of content-information, we found that tobacco usage and its effects were the most popular topic followed by inclement weather/emergency preparedness and maternal and child health issues. Surprisingly, Ebola was the least mentioned topic by LHDs on Facebook.

Conclusion: This analysis reflected the current status of LHDs in using Facebook in increasing awareness about public health issues. Despite the extended reach of Facebook, LHDs are not completely utilizing this platform in health promotion. Moreover, LHDs need to be updated with the current global concerns as well, along with the conventional public health issues.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the extent to which online social media are used by local health departments. List the type of services endorsed by local health departments through online social media. Identify the public health focus areas lacking dissemination through online social media. Identify the significance of online social media as platform for disseminating health knowledge and awareness, and to enhance interaction with the population in local health departments’ jurisdiction.

Keyword(s): Social Media, Information Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Health information technology has always been subject of my interest. I was engaged in this project to collect and analyse data. In the past I have been actively involved with public health systems and services research and practice based research network. Moreover I have been involved in various researches in the past involving complex data sets from NACHHO's national profile.
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.