Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Artemio Ramirez, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Joshua Scacco, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janelle Applequist, Ph.D.


Health Communication, Infectious diseases, Risk Communication, Social Media


Since its genesis, the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has claimed millions of lives across the world and has infected many more. The population in the US experienced one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world, with the number of deaths rising monolithically at one point. Although the development and inoculation of a large number of the public has helped, newer variants threaten to revitalize the growth and spread of COVID-19. Scholars have extensively studied health messages related to COVID-19 in a variety of contexts. However, little attention has been paid to the risk perceptions of health messages related to COVID-19 on social media platforms. Hence, utilizing the EPPM, this study aimed to assess the risk perceptions of health messages related to COVID-19 on Twitter from the CDC, the WHO, and the White House. This study also sought to test the EPPM in the context of Twitter messages related to COVID-19. Using a survey experiment, this study tested the EPPM and assessed risk perceptions by measuring variables such as perceived threat, perceived efficacy, fear control responses, and danger control responses. Participants were exposed to conditions with varying levels of threat and efficacy (high/low/none). The results revealed little support for the EPPM but did find (1) a significant positive relationship perceived efficacy and danger control responses and (2) a significant negative perceived threat and fear control responses. The practical and theoretical implications of the study are discussed.