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Use of Facebook by Local Health Departments: Activity and Focus Areas
Presentation at APHA’s 2015 Annual Conference (2015)
  • Rakhi Trivedi, Georgia Southern University
  • Gulzar H. Shah, Georgia Southern University
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.
  • Social Media,
  • Information Technology
Publication Date
November 4, 2015
Chicago, IL
Citation Information
Rakhi Trivedi and Gulzar H. Shah. "Use of Facebook by Local Health Departments: Activity and Focus Areas" Presentation at APHA’s 2015 Annual Conference (2015)
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