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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Author: aetoy

Yang Co-Investigator on Two New Grants to Study Vaccine Hesitancy

Computational Approaches and Message Effects Research (CAMER) group faculty leader Sijia Yang is a co-investigator on two new grants. The grants will fund projects researching vaccine hesitancy

The first grant is funded by the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research through the Clinical and Community Outcomes Research Pilot Awards mechanism.

Promoting COVID Vaccine Acceptance for Safety Net Providers and Patients in Wisconsin
Susan Passmore, PhD, School of Medicine and Public Health
Academic Collaborators: Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, SoE & SMPH; Sijia Yang, L&S
UW Program Partners: Collaborative Center for Health Equity
Community Collaborators: Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (Stephanie Harrison, Sashikala Gregory)

Abstract: As the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed, we find ourselves in a context of greatly exacerbated mistrust of science, health professionals and the government and, in turn, the likeness of vaccine rejection, especially among underserved populations who disproportionately suffer from high COVID-19 prevalence, hospitalization and death rates. The goals of this study are to (1) develop a stakeholder engagement plan and messaging strategies toolkit to increase health care providers’ ability to promote a COVID vaccine to patients under initial distribution conditions; (2) conduct a mixed-method exploration (focus groups & survey) to identify promising patient beliefs and message themes regarding COVID-19 prevention and vaccine uptake to improve vaccine acceptability among patients for use by FQHC leadership and providers; and (3) assess the effectiveness of messaging through a survey-based message evaluation experiment.

The second grant is funded by the CDC through UW-Madison Preventive Research Center for the implementation of CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine confidence strategy.

Connecting Behavioral Science to COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Network
Dr. Susan Passmore, Collaborative Center for Health Equity
Collaborators: Dr. Malia Jones, UW Applied Population Laboratory and Dear Pandemic, Dr. Andy Garbacz, Department of Educational Psychology, and Dr. Sijia Yang, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Description: The goal is to identify key behavioral insights that will inform effective solutions to increase confidence in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, and ultimately uptake.

As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out, high uptake of the vaccines is necessary to reduce the burden of disease and control the pandemic. To ensure high uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, communities need to have:

1) Sufficient confidence in the vaccines
2) Healthcare professionals who administer vaccines
3) The public health system that authorizes/approves, recommends, and monitors vaccines.

Promoting confidence in vaccines will require more than messages. With this project we will seek to build trust and confidence among Wisconsin’s rural families with children. We are collaborating with partners that have considerable relationship and reach in the rural communities, including: Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Programs (SWCAP), the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Immunization Program. Dear, Pandemic, is an additional collaborator that produces accessible, credible, and timely information about COVID-19, vaccines, and vaccination.

Working in close collaboration with our community partners, we will use existing data to co-design messages to be used in social media, community education, and a provider toolkit.

The budget allocated from these two grants combined will allow Yang to hire a 12-month RA and support graduate and undergraduate students during the summer months through funded student hourly positions. There is also a research budget to develop, test, and implement effective message interventions to address vaccine hesitancy in Wisconsin, especially in rural communities.

MCRC Faculty Leaders Win 2020 Fall Research Competition Grant

MCRC Faculty Leaders Chris Cascio, Communication, Brain and Behavior (CBB) Lab Faculty Leader, and Sijia Yang, Computational Approaches and Message Effects Research (CAMER) Group Faculty Leader, are co-PIs on a new project, “Developing and Testing the Impacts of Cannabis Prevention Messages for At-Risk Young Adults”. They have received funding for their proposal submitted to the 2020 Fall Research Competition.

Abstract: The proliferation of legalizing recreational use of cannabis products, combined with shifted public perceptions and youth-appealing marketing has put young adults at high risk for cannabis use initiation and progression into disorder. Despite that early onset of regular cannabis use is associated with higher health risks and poorer educational and vocational attainment, young adults’ harm perceptions have been nevertheless declining. To improve knowledge and prevent early and habitual use, cannabis prevention messages (CPMs) are required to facilitate educational communication campaigns and enhance health warning labels on product packages and advertisements. However, little research exists to provide an empirical basis for designing effective CPMs for this age group. We propose a multi-method approach that combines the strengths of online conjoint experiment and neuroimaging to identify effective CPMs promising in improving knowledge and preventing cannabis use among young people.

HITS publishes “Online health information seeking, medical care beliefs and timeliness of medical check-ups among African Americans” in journal Patient Education and Counseling

In the new article “Online health information seeking, medical care beliefs and timeliness of medical check-ups among African Americans” in the journal Patient Education and Counseling, the Health Information and Technology Studies (HITS) group found links between technology use and positive health behaviors among African Americans. Continue reading

New publication advances research framework for digital health intervention

A new journal article from the Health Information Technology Studies (HITS) team, led by “Estelle” Ranran Mi, was published in Health Communication. The paper, “Intraindividual, Dyadic, and Network Communication in a Digital Health Intervention: Distinguishing Message Exposure from Message Production,” revealed nuanced intervention effects of a smartphone-based application for addiction recovery by examining message exposure and production at different levels of communication. Continue reading

SMAD team publishes “Covering #MeToo across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention”

Furthering their research on the #MeToo movement, the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) team has published “Covering #MeToo across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention” in The International Journal of Press/Politics. Continue reading

New article from HITS group “Framing the Clinical Encounter: Shared Decision-Making, Mammography Screening, and Decision Satisfaction”

The Health Information Technology Studies (HITS) group has a new article out in the Journal of Health Communication. The article, “Framing the Clinical Encounter: Shared Decision-Making, Mammography Screening, and Decision Satisfaction” was published in October 2020. Continue reading

New Fact-Checking Projects Focus on Combating COVID-19 Misinformation

UW student Megan Skoyen dispenses viral transport media for COVID-19 test kits that are being created at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (WVDL) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on July 2, 2020. The WVDL is partnering with the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene, University Health Services, the School of Medicine and Public Health and others on campus to set up widespread COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty and staff in preparation to reopen the campus this fall. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

With information about COVID-19 rapidly circulating online, it can be difficult to determine what’s true and what’s not. Social media has made it even easier for misinformation and disinformation to spread unchecked. Knowing whether a claim or a source is reputable can be daunting, even for the savviest media consumers.

As the UW-Madison community of students, faculty and staff begin to plan their return to campus, having a verified and reliable source for information will be crucial to maintaining everyone’s health and safety. One such source is the COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect app.

Developed by a collaboration of campus groups, COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect is a free desktop and mobile app that provides accurate information, social support and helpful resources to Wisconsinites. One key feature of the app is the COVID-19 Fact Checker, a digest of information that separates COVID facts from fiction.

The information in the COVID-19 Fact Checker is provided by the Center for Communication and Civic Renewal (CCCR) within the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Communication experts from CCCR find questions and misinformation related to COVID-19 on social media in Wisconsin, and conduct fact-checks using vetted content from experts at leading health and government sources to correct the misinformation.

“We see it as an essential part of the Wisconsin Idea for students and faculty to work together to bring the best information about the pandemic to the people of our state,” said Michael Wagner, SJMC Professor and Director of the Center for Communication and Civic Renewal.

Fact-checks can be an effective way to both identify and correct misinformation about COVID-19. One group dedicated to this work, the International Fact-Checking Network’s (IFCN) CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, has been working diligently to catalog over 7,600 fact-checks about COVID-19 into the CoronaVirusFacts Database.

Recently, IFCN chose six new researchers to join the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance and receive access to the CoronaVirusFacts Database for their research projects. Two of the researchers selected are from UW SJMC: Assistant Professor Sijia Yang, faculty leader of the Mass Communication Research Center’s (MCRC) Computational Approaches and Message Effects Research (CAMER) Group, and graduate student Yiping Xia.

Yang’s project, “Identifying and Implementing Effective Visual Enhancements to Correct High-Priority COVID-19 Misinformation”, also received funding from IFCN. His project will examine how visual fact-checks, such as infographics or illustrations, can influence public understanding of COVID-19. Using the fact-checks from the database, the team will design a series of surveys and experiments to find which visual fact-checks are most effective at fighting COVID-19 misinformation. Additionally, he plans to use the findings from his research to add information to the Fact Checker within the COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect app.

SJMC graduate students Janice Li, Ran Tao and Communication Arts graduate student Liwei Shen are collaborating with Yang as student project leaders, with the input from SJMC professor Dhavan Shah and alum Porismita Borah, now an Associate Professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.

“Many researchers around the world have already made impressive progress in tracking the rise and diffusion of various types of COVID-19 misinformation,” Yang said. “But not all misinformation is relevant for behaviors such as wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. Given limited resources and the severity of the pandemic, we need to focus on correcting misinformation that is most consequential for public health; we need to identify effective correction strategies to achieve that goal. Our project focuses on visual enhancements to corrections because visuals are often necessary to attract scant audience attention in today’s media environment and are potentially appealing to vulnerable populations with education deprivation or cognitive impairment. I hope the results from our project can inform our fact-checking efforts in CWC and provide evidence-based recommendations to the broader fact-checker community through our funder Poynter/IFCN.”

Xia’s project will look at how fact-checkers from around the world present fact-checks about the same information. By doing so, he hopes to understand diverse audience responses to similar misinformation in order to improve how fact-checkers communicate.

“I will work with SJMC Professor Lucas Graves to compare COVID-19 fact checks by organizations of different national backgrounds. We hope to understand how fact-checkers from different countries use different sources, or frame these sources differently, when writing about common themes of COVID-19 misinformation,” Xia said. “This research sheds light on the roles that cultural, political and institutional contexts may play in shaping effective responses to COVID-19 misinformation.”