In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy, many people turned to the Internet. The CDC created a videocast about grief management and dissiminated information to bloggers. Information also was put out through social media networks.
So what is the future of all of this? Health related social media will grow. Health-related information technologies always are behind the curve, and the health information divide will grow. Mobile media could bridge the gap, but a great deal more research is needed.
Information credibility is hard to judge. So, the CDC says it needs to inform about the big and small decisions.
A few answers from the Q&A:
One woman asked what kind of strategies were used to integrate social media nationally with such strict federal regulations? It wasn't easy, Dr. Berndhart said. He said, ultimately, "we just did it. We made sure we did it in a scientific way, we just jumped in, and we did it." Also, these medias are cheap. So it is easier to have a greater reach at much less expense.
Another woman asks what is being done with the Hispanic population specifically. Dr. Berndhart says there is a Web site specifically in Spanish. Also, the CDC is doing important podcasts in Spanish as well as English, and there is an in-house translation team that does this. They also make sure the information in the translations is culturally relevant.
Tell as about pilot studies in mobile tech, someone asks. Preparedness and emergency response is important. The CDC is looking into programs where one can subscribe to a service with emergency notifications, such as when a hurricane is coming and evacuation is needed. The CDC also is looking in Guatemala and Kenya to put in mobile phone to aid in disease education.
Thank you, Dr. Berndhart!