An emerging infectious disease event like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic demands careful communication of public health messages to diverse audiences. However, misinformation is easily generated and amplified when a rapidly evolving epidemiological situation is coupled with gaps in scientific knowledge about a novel pathogen. Groups involved in health policy research, advocacy, implementation, and enforcement must be aware of three key challenges as they develop and apply communication strategies during emergencies: (i) information overload, (ii) information uncertainty, and (iii) misinformation. These challenges can be countered by accurately communicating core messages to specific audiences, being transparent about the evidence base for recommendations and open about the likelihood that guidelines may change as scientific discoveries are made, and identifying which myths and conspiracy theories circulating on social media are so harmful that they must be directly countered. Data analytics can assist with the process of monitoring and evaluating the impact of organizational communications.
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- health communication