Mask Making on Social Media: Women’s Mask Making Practices and Advocacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Advocacy, COVID-19, Health Communication, Public Health, Social Media

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Background: COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-COV-2, can create serious respiratory problems, or even death, for those affected. Individuals who share messages about its risks and related risk reduction behaviors have the potential to make a broader health impact. Early in the pandemic, some individuals made homemade masks to address the limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and posted about their efforts on social media.
Aim: To understand the grassroots application of the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) theoretical model concerning effective messages in early phases of a crisis.
Methods: Using both individual interviews and observations, researchers conducted a study of 15 Appalachian women making masks during the Covid-19 pandemic and analyzed 9 of their social media accounts.
Results: Through interviews and observations, the researchers gained understanding as to how mask makers used social media to create and distribute masks and engage their communities. Social media messages often contained calls to action, personal connections to the issue, and supported the mask makers’ efforts to reach a broader network of individuals.
Discussion: An evaluation of the grassroots efforts of mask makers extends the CERC framework to the individual level.
Conclusions: This study provides insight into the role of grassroots health advocacy, and the role of user-generated social media messaging in pandemic risk reduction.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Qualitative Health Communication, v. 2, issue 1, p. 4-23