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Use of Facebook by Local Health Departments: Posts, Frequency, and Purposes
Georgia Southern University Research Symposium
  • Rakhi Trivedi, Georgia Southern University
  • Gulzar H. Shah, Dr., Jiann Ping Hsu College of Public Health
Session Format
Poster Presentation
Research Area Topic:
Public Health & Well Being - Health Informatics
Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Rakhi Trivedi

Dr. Gulzar H. Shah

Introduction: Online social media is one of the greatest advancements of 21st century after the telephone revolution of early ‘70s. Emailing pictures and videos have become obsolete and taken over by real time sharing to several friends. Similar to telephone and mobile phones, the use of Facebook is not confined to personal use. There is a great potential for public health professional at local health departments (LHDs) to utilize this popular platform to endorse health information, communicate with public, and support the agency work. Objective: To assess the usage of Facebook by LHDs, their level of activity on Facebook, and to identify the areas in which LHDs are focusing through Facebook. Method: We used data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ (NACCHO) 2013 Profile of LHD study, administered to 2,532 LHDs. A module consisting of questions based on social media usage completed by 505 LHDs determined that 167 LHDs use Facebook. We then followed the Facebook profiles of these 167 LHDs over a period of 4 months and transcribed the content information into a document. Finally we performed qualitative analysis on the transcripts to get our results. Result: LHDs which responded about their activity on Facebook on 2013 profile survey done by NACCHO were somewhat inconsistent in their presence itself. We were able to find only 101 LHDs with an active profile. Boulder County Health Department, Colorado was found to be the most popular based on the number of “likes” within the study period. 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 cross sectional standings of LHDs in using social media platforms in increasing awareness about many public health issues. Despite the extended reach of social media, our 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.
  • Social media,
  • Use of social media,
  • Web 2.0,
  • Qualitative study,
  • Facebook,
  • Local health department
Presentation Type and Release Option
Presentation (Open Access)
Start Date
4-24-2015 2:45 PM
End Date
4-24-2015 4:00 PM
Citation Information
Rakhi Trivedi and Gulzar H. Shah. "Use of Facebook by Local Health Departments: Posts, Frequency, and Purposes" (2015)
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