Risk Communication and Social Media: COVID-19 Pandemic Planning and Response in Turkey

Risk Communication and Social Media: COVID-19 Pandemic Planning and Response in Turkey

Hikmet Tosyalı (Maltepe University, Turkey) and Furkan Tosyalı (Middle East Technical University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6825-5.ch010
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Abstract

The new form of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. Then, the citizens were required to stay in their homes. In this process, social media has become the users' window to the global village. With the prolongation of the isolation process, the use and importance of these platforms in communication, entertainment, socialization, and access to instant information about the pandemic have increased. People and institutions responsible for pandemic management have started to frequently benefit from social media platforms in risk communication activities to create public awareness about the disease and reinforce individuals' beliefs to comply with the precautions. In this study, the person responsible for COVID-19 pandemic planning and response in Turkey, the Minister of Health's, Twitter account was analyzed. The posts shared by the Minister of Health were subjected to content analysis, and the messages conveyed to the citizens were examined from the perspective of the health belief model.
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Emergency Risk Communication In Public Health

One of the most important issues addressed in plans prepared for emergencies threatening public health is the communication between the public authority, experts, and the public. Communication, which is an essential part of the pandemic response and management, has critical importance in eliminating the uncertainties that arise during the pandemic and adapting to changing health conditions (WHO, 2005). Reducing the adverse effects of epidemics and pandemics on public health is related to communication effectiveness. Individuals’ perspectives and behaviors regarding health risks could be changed through planned communication activities. As a result, all stakeholders’ capacity to be effective partners can be increased, and society can be promoted in terms of prevention, containment, resistance, and recovery against disease through a well-planned effective communication (Holmes, 2008).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Twitter: Social network launched in 2006, where users can share posts called “tweets” limited to 280 characters.

Health Policy: Decisions and legal regulations made by governments at the national and international scale determining who and how to provide health services, what financial resources are, and how services are delivered to citizens.

Pandemic: General expression given to epidemics that spread and show their effects in a wide area in more than one country or continent in the world.

COVID-19: New form of coronavirus disease that emerged in 2019 and affected the whole world.

Content Analysis: Classifying and summarizing verbal or written data in terms of a specific problem or purpose, measuring certain variables or concepts, and categorizing them by scanning for a specific meaning.

Social media: A media system that enables reciprocal and simultaneous information sharing. The whole of dialogues and shares that users make with each other on the internet.

Twitter API (Application Programming Interface): Interface provided by Twitter to use Twitter application capabilities in another application.

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