Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Services Research & Administration

First Committee Member

David Palm

Second Committee Member

Ali Khan

Third Committee Member

Stephen Peters


In 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID19) outbreak effectively disrupted worldwide operation for months, leading to tremendous economic loss and adverse health outcomes. While countries grappled to control the virus and scientists worked around the clock to deliver a vaccine in record time, a pubic health communication crisis emerged. The spread of false and misleading information, also known as misinformation, has proved to be a barrier in the fight against COVID19 and its vaccination effort. Many factors including the rise of social media, distrust of government, polarization of news sources, and fragmented media have created an environment susceptible to misinformation. Utilized correctly, health messaging has the potential to be a tremendous resource for health promotion and messaging, especially during emergency situations. Framed messaging, when tailored to target and appeal to a specific population may serve to alleviate the effects of misinformation, specifically when targeting under-vaccinated groups. The relevance of this project is that it attempts to bring focus to the emergence of misinformation, and explores strategies deployed by regional public health departments across Nebraska. To this end, the goal of this work is to information future public health organizations about the options for successful public health messaging and guidance. A literature review was conducted, which collected and reviewed studies centered around messaging, vaccine hesitancy, and misinformation. A qualitative assessment was also conducted, through interview with four local Nebraska health department personnel to determine their actions and perceptions of the uses and power of misinformation. Interview questions centered around messaging strategies. Based on the results of the qualitative data, framed health messaging was effective in decreasing misinformation and increasing vaccine rates and might be a worthwhile strategy. However, further research is needed to determine how public health can be more effective in messaging framing to combat misinformation.

Included in

Public Health Commons