Empowering healthcare workers on social media to bolster trust in science and vaccination during the pandemic: Making IMPACT using a place-based approach


Advocate Condell Medical Center


Background: Given widespread and concerted efforts to propagate health misinformation on social media, particularly centered around vaccination during the pandemic, many groups of clinicians and scientists organized on social media to tackle misinformation and promote vaccination using a national or international lens. While documenting the impact of such social media efforts, particularly at the community level, can be challenging, a more hyperlocal or "place-based approach" for social media campaigns could be effective at tackling misinformation and improving public health outcomes on a community level.

Objective: To describe and document the effectiveness of a place-based strategy for a coordinated group of healthcare workers on social media from Chicago to tackle misinformation and improve vaccination rates in the communities they serve.

Methods: The Illinois Medical Professionals Action Collaborative Team (IMPACT) was founded in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with representatives from major academic teaching hospitals in Chicago (University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois, Rush University) and community-based organizations. Through crowdsourcing on multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with a place-based approach, IMPACT engaged grassroots networks of thousands of Illinois healthcare workers and the public to identify gaps, needs, and viewpoints to improve local healthcare delivery during the pandemic.

Results: To address vaccine misinformation, IMPACT created 8 "myth debunking" infographics and 14 informational vaccine infographics that have generated >340K impressions and informed the development of vaccine education for the Chicago Public Libraries. IMPACT delivered 13 policy letters focusing on different topics (i.e. healthcare worker personal protective equipment, universal masking, vaccination) with >4000 healthcare workers (HCWs) signatures collected through social media to policymakers, published over 50 op-eds on COVID-19 topics in high impact news outlets, and contributed to >200 local and national news features. Using the crowdsourcing approach on IMPACT social media channels, IMPACT mobilized healthcare and lay volunteers to staff > 400 vaccine events for > 120,000 individuals, many in Chicago's hardest-hit neighborhoods. The group's recommendations have influenced public health awareness campaigns and initiatives, research, advocacy, and policy recommendations, and have been recognized with local and national awards.

Conclusions: A coordinated group of healthcare workers on social media using a hyperlocal place-based approach can not only work together to address misinformation but can also collaborate to boost vaccination rates in their surrounding communities.

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