The Effects of Media Reports on Disease Spread and Important Public Health Measurements.

TitleThe Effects of Media Reports on Disease Spread and Important Public Health Measurements.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsCollinson S, Khan K, Heffernan JM
JournalPloS one
Volume10
Issue11
Paginatione0141423
Date Published2015
ISSN1932-6203
KeywordsHumans, Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype, Influenza, Human, Information Dissemination, Models, Theoretical, Pandemics, Social Media
Abstract

Controlling the spread of influenza to reduce the effects of infection on a population is an important mandate of public health. Mass media reports on an epidemic or pandemic can provide important information to the public, and in turn, can induce positive healthy behaviour practices (i.e., handwashing, social distancing) in the individuals, that will reduce the probability of contracting the disease. Mass media fatigue, however, can dampen these effects. Mathematical models can be used to study the effects of mass media reports on epidemic/pandemic outcomes. In this study we employ a stochastic agent based model to provide a quantification of mass media reports on the variability in important public health measurements. We also include mass media report data compiled by the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, to study the effects of mass media reports in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. We find that the report rate and the rate at which individuals relax their healthy behaviours (media fatigue) greatly affect the variability in important public health measurements. When the mass media reporting data is included in the model, two peaks of infection result.

DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0141423
Alternate JournalPLoS ONE