What's buzzing on your feed? Health authorities' use of Facebook to combat Zika in Singapore

Santosh Vijaykumar, Rianne Wally Meurzec, Karthikayen Jayasundar, Claudia Pagliari, Yohan Fernandopulle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2016, Singapore grappled with one of the largest Zika outbreaks in Southeast Asia. This study examines the use of Facebook for Zika-related outreach by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environmental Agency (NEA) from March 1, 2015, to September 1, 2016, and public response to this effort. Despite nearly equivalent outreach, MOH's Facebook posts received more likes (µ = 3.49) and shares (µ = 30.11), whereas NEA's posts received more comments (µ = 4.55), with NEA posting mostly on prevention (N = 30) and MOH on situational updates (N = 24). Thematic analyses identified prevention-related posts as garnering the most likes (N = 1277), while update-related posts were most shared (N = 1059) and commented upon (N = 220). Outreach ceased briefly for 2 months after Singapore's first imported case of Zika, but increased following the outbreak of locally transmitted cases in August 2016. Public engagement was significantly higher during Zika compared with prior haze and dengue outbreaks. The results indicate the value of Facebook as a tool for rapid outreach during infectious disease outbreaks, and as a "listening" platform for those managing the situation. We discuss implications for public health communication research and policy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2017


  • Journal Article


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