How Are Public Health Issues Treated in Social Media?

UC Davis Communication Professor Wins Public Health Award for Her Research

Zhang jingwen apha award
Jingwen Zhang, a UC Davis assistant professor of communication, receives an award at the American Public Health Association's 2021 meeting in Denver.

When it comes to people talking on social media about vaccine hesitancy, cancer screenings, or virtually any other public health issues, Jingwen Zhang, a UC Davis assistant professor of communication, has been at the forefront. She has monitored social media on health issues, and made suggestions for interventions to debunk myths.

The American Public Health Association just recognized her with its 2021 Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award on Oct. 26. 

Established in 2019 the award recognizes a public health professional, age 40 or younger, who is using an innovative solution to address a complex public health issue.

Among the 10 award recipients this year, the APHA honored Zhang for her research on communication and emerging media technologies that promote healthy lifestyles and preventive behaviors across diverse populations. 

Zhang’s work includes social media-based interventions and the development of mobile app technologies and artificial intelligence chatbots designed to increase physical activity, contraceptive use and cancer prevention in underserved groups. 

With over 40 scholarly articles published in leading journals, her work has been supported by the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Yoshimi Fukuoka, a professor of physiological nursing at UC San Francisco and Zhang’s nominator praised her as an internationally recognized leader in the field of health communication and persuasive technologies for health.

Dr. Zhang has made extensive research contributions to advancing persuasive technology and electronic and mobile health, especially for the purpose of improving lifestyle modification programs to reduce the public health burden of noncommunicable diseases.” — Yoshimi Fukuoka, UCSF professor

This blog highlights and summarizes an initial article by Kathleen Holder, member of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science communication and marketing team. Read the full article here.


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