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How Are Actions to Prevent COVID-19 Infection Related to Social Media? Komasawa Presented at the Japanese Society of Health Promotion’s Conference in 2021

May 1, 2022

The 18th academic conference of the Japanese Society of Health Promotion was hosted by Juntendo University on Dec. 4 and 5, 2021. Its main theme was “Back to the Basics of Health Promotion: Looking Back on Where We Started to Think About a Sustainable Society for the Future.” Komasawa Makiko, research fellow at JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development (JICA Ogata Research Institute), participated and gave a presentation titled “COVID-19 Preventive Behaviors and Social Media: An Analysis on a Study on Urban Residents in Kenya.” This presentation was part of “COVID-19 Study for Universal Health Coverage and a Resilient Society,” a research project currently being conducted by JICA Ogata Research Institute.

Over several decades, mass media including radio and television have been widely used as means to promote behavior change communication (BCC) in the field of health promotion in Africa. However, as the internet and social media are rapidly becoming common in recent years, they are increasingly being used for BCC as well. Komasawa therefore conducted a secondary analysis to see if there is any relationship between infection prevention behaviors and trust in public authorities and, between infection prevention behaviors and social media use during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her analysis, she used data from a survey on urban residents in Kenya that was conducted by JICA’s Infrastructure Management Department in November 2020 (n = 1,662).

Results showed that the majority—88% of respondents—was using the internet at least once a day. Furthermore, statistical analysis suggested that those with high social media literacy were more likely to implement both hygienic measures (e.g., mask-wearing and handwashing) and physical distancing measures (e.g., staying home and avoiding the “three Cs” [i.e., confined spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings]). They were more actively collecting and exchanging information during the pandemic and had access to an environment that allows for remote work and online education. Meanwhile, there was no relationship between trust in their government and infection prevention actions. Based on the results, Komasawa recommended enhancing risk communication (information sharing/exchange on risks among relevant people) from the government as well as developing even more effective ways to use social media in risk communication in order to encourage people to be engaged in infection prevention behaviors.

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