Health Communication Strategies: Crisis Management and Infodemic During COVID-19

Health Communication Strategies: Crisis Management and Infodemic During COVID-19

Ece Ünür
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8674-7.ch005
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


This chapter focuses on the crisis and risk management strategies as parts of health communication processes applied during the COVID-19 era. For the literature part, risk and crisis communication, social media, information disorders, and infodemic are used, and for the analysis, crisis communication strategies of the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Turkey are examined. The findings reveal that the ministry takes several precautions in order to prevent the spread of the virus (like lockdowns, enclosures, strengthening health services, etc.) and to inform the public regularly via conventional and social media.
Chapter Preview


Health communication is defined as the art and technique of informing, influencing, and motivating people about important health problems at individual, institutional and social levels (İmik Tanyıldızı, 2020; Avcı & Avşar, 2014). According to another definition, health communication means “the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that enhance health” (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC], 2008). Working in cooperation with disciplines such as communication, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, and business (Çınarlı 2008), health communication deals with issues such as medical decision making, health literacy, patient-centered communication, and risk communication (Oh et al., 2013).

The main objectives of health communication include (a) informing the public about diseases and health problems, (b) raising their awareness, (c) preventing diseases, (c) improving health and quality of life at both the individual and community level (Mahmud et al., 2013; Mendi, 2015; Redmond et al., 2010), (d) managing the communication processes among health workers, managers, and patients, (e) ensuring that the public perceives the information given by the health institutions correctly, (f) determining different understandings and beliefs in different cultures regarding health and illness and correcting misunderstandings if there are (Mendi, 2015), (g) creating health campaigns and messages to change behaviour and (h) preparing and implementing the risk communication strategies (ECDC, 2008). To manage these objectives a proper health communication process must be prepared. For this, the messages must be trustable, accessible, and understandable by everyone (Öztürk & Öymen, 2013; Bernhardt, 2004). With the technological advancements in communication, social media is more likely to be used in health communication. Although it offers many advantages such as speed, synchrony, participation, interaction, timelessness, and spacelessness, it also poses a serious disadvantage which is the rapid spread of misinformation or disinformation. To eliminate this disadvantage, the authorities should warn the public against mis/disinformation regularly and raise public awareness about the spread and transmission patterns of the related diseases.

When a new disease spreads worldwide it is called a pandemic (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2010). It has been declared a pandemic many times throughout the history of human civilization. The best known of these include plague (also called as black death), cholera, influenza, H1N1, polio, Zika, and Ebola (Baygül Özpınar & Aydın, 2020; İmik Tanyıldızı, 2020; Chakraborty & Maity, 2020). Today the world is facing a new pandemic threat, called coronavirus. Coronaviruses, namely SARS, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, belong to a large diverse family of viruses. The word COVID-19 (the more common name for SARS-CoV-2) was created by combining the abbreviations of the words “corona” (CO), “virus” (VI), and “disease” (D) plus the year of its outbreak (2019) (Chakraborty & Maity, 2020). The first case of the outbreak of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019 (Pulido et al., 2020) and within almost three months it spread globally thus on March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak the pandemic COVID-19 (WHO, 2020a).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Misinformation: Creating and spreading false information unintentionally to harm someone.

Crisis Communication: Communication strategies and tactics to be followed in times of crisis.

Fake News: News containing misleading information.

Infodemic: Spread of false information about COVID-19 intentionally or unintentionally.

Health Communication: Communication strategies aiming to inform the public and to enhance their health conditions.

Information Disorder: Misleading information with or without the purpose of causing harm.

Risk Management: A process of making and implementing decisions that will minimize the negative effects of a risk.

Twitter: A social media platform where users can share posts called tweets that are limited to 280 characters.

Disinformation: Creating and spreading false information intentionally to harm someone.

Pandemic: An epidemic occurring worldwide.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: