Expressing Uncertainty and Risk About the Mpox Outbreak: A Textual Analysis of Twitter Messaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This exploratory study investigates the prevalence and nature of mpox themes on Twitter during summer 2022, focusing specifically on uncertainty and risk-related posts. Within this analysis, we examine a two-week time frame coinciding with the WHO announcement that mpox was a public health emergency. Results indicate that prior to the WHO announcement, individuals frequently expressed uncertainty regarding adequate preparation and knowledge about the virus. Uncertainty-related themes were less common in the week following the WHO announcement, suggesting a shifting narrative toward exclusively correcting misperceptions/false narratives and risk-related concerns. Risk-related themes were prevalent throughout the time frame, although following the WHO announcement, risk-related themes more frequently highlighted diverse contexts and populations impacted by the virus and emphasized the severity of illness. Overall, this project offers insight into how public health messaging can alter social media discourse related to health ambiguities and perceived risk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • health communication
  • Mpox
  • social media
  • text mining

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