Online Program

Intersections of current twitter use and professional development among public health workers

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sabrina Islam, MS, Department of Behavioral Science and Community Health, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Mark Hart, Ed.D., M.A.L.S., Behavioral Science and Community Health, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Fiscal constraints coupled with communication technology invite public health workers to utilize novel approaches to conventional tasks. The use of online education and social media broadens as such challenges are imposed. Increases in work burden and limitations on professional development compel an exploration into the application of Twitter by public health professionals. Previous research investigating the intersection of Twitter and public health is minimal. Studies have probed disease surveillance and the role of Twitter at the organizational level. A microblogging website, Twitter, has seen its online adult user population quadruple since 2010. Its features of tweets and hashtags enable registered users to not only retrieve and disseminate information but to also participate in communication exchange. The purpose of this exploratory study aims to ascertain the role of Twitter in the professional development of public health workers. Two coders assessed the content of posts made by public health workers from October 1st, 2014 to January 1st, 2015. Analyzing timelines includes original tweets, tweets made by other users, and conversation interactions. The research sample (n=200) was recruited through keyword searches identifying active ‘tweeters’ involved in the field of public health. A grounded theoretical framework via the constant comparative method was utilized. Selective coding allowed for categorization of tweet content. Preliminary findings (n=76) of frequencies indicate infectious disease (i.e. Ebola HIV/AIDS, measles), healthcare policy, health promotion, technology, and professional conferences (e.g. APHA) to be emerging themes. Completion of analyses will yield additional insight. Fiscal difficulties and interconnectivities afforded through social networking websites can shape the use of Twitter by public health workers to achieve professional development goals. This study can help health workers seeking to professionally employ Twitter in and out of the workplace. Additional implications can guide developmental strategies and continuing education for potential use of Twitter informed by current practice.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Explain the current application of Twitter by public health workers Describe the content of tweets explored

Keyword(s): Professional Development, Social Media

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the investigator of the current study employing the use of social media with a public health perspective. I am doctoral student in the social and behavioral sciences as well as a graduate teaching assistant. I have been trained in the methods. Among my scientific interests has been research, including moderating focus groups, developing surveys, and conducting public health data collection and assessment.
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.