In 2016, Singapore grappled with one of the largest Zika outbreaks in Southeast Asia. This study examines the use of Facebook for Zika-related outreach and engagement by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environmental Agency (NEA) from March 1, 2015 to September 19, 2016. Despite nearly equivalent outreach, MOH’s Facebook posts received more likes (µ=3.49) and shares (µ=30.11), whereas NEA’s posts received more comments (µ=4.55), with NEA posting mostly on prevention (N=30) and MOH on situational updates (N=24). Thematic analyses identified prevention-related posts as garnering the most likes (N=1277), while update-related posts were most shared (N=1,059) and commented upon (N=220). Outreach briefly ceased for two months after Singapore’s first imported case of Zika, but increased following the outbreak of locally-transmitted cases in August 2016. Public engagement was significantly higher during Zika, compared with prior Haze and Dengue outbreak. The results indicate the value of Facebook as a tool for rapid outreach during infectious disease outbreaks, and as a ‘listening’ platform for those managing the situation. We discuss implications for public health communication and research.
|Journal||Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association|
|Early online date||25 Apr 2017|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2017|