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Exploring vaccine hesitancy spread through social contagion theory: A case study on COVID-19 in the U.S. and implications for public health practice

Bellino, Diana (2023) Exploring vaccine hesitancy spread through social contagion theory: A case study on COVID-19 in the U.S. and implications for public health practice. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Vaccine hesitancy, defined as refusing or being reluctant towards available vaccines, is a barrier to the success of public health interventions (WHO). Vaccine hesitancy is influenced by the spread of misinformation via social media and social networks. Misinformation is false information that is shared with others with no harmful intent (Wang et al., 2019). A helpful way to understand the spread of misinformation is through social contagion theory. This theory posits that an individual can model or adopt the behaviors and attitudes of those in their social networks (Konstantinou et al., 2021). In this case study, social contagion theory is used to explore vaccine hesitancy and the spread of misinformation in the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. A literature review was conducted to gather and consolidate existing literature on the relationship between social contagion theory, misinformation, and vaccine hesitancy related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Vaccine misinformation spreads quickly and is widely disseminated through social media, reaching millions of people, which was mainly seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using social contagion theory, it is possible to predict how misinformation spreads through social networks, leading to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Exploring vaccine hesitancy and misinformation through the lens of social contagion theory offers important insights into vaccine hesitancy and how misinformation spread during the pandemic. This improved understanding of how COVID-19 vaccine misinformation spreads through social networks will guide recommendations for public health practice to maximize vaccine uptake and curb infectious disease threats.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bellino, Dianadib51@pitt.edudib51
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKrier, Sarahsek29@pitt.edusek29UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberGivens, Daviddlg43@pitt.edudlg43UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberChu, Kar Haichuk@pitt.educhukUNSPECIFIED
Date: 16 May 2023
Date Type: Completion
Number of Pages: 55
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 16 May 2023 19:18
Last Modified: 16 May 2023 19:18


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