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JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2016 Feb 24;2(1):e6. doi: 10.2196/publichealth.5032. eCollection 2016 Jan-Jun.

Considerations for Public Health Organizations Attempting to Implement a Social Media Presence: A Qualitative Study.

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University of FloridaGainesville, FLUnited States.
Contributed equally



In the past decade, social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives, but research on how this tool is used by public health workers and organizations is still developing. Budget cuts and staff reduction in county departments have required employees to take on more responsibilities. These reductions have caused a reduction in the time for training or collaborating with others in the field. To make up for the loss, many employees are seeking collaboration through social media sites but are unable to do so because state departments block these Internet sites.


This study sought to highlight the key considerations and decision-making process for a public health organization deciding whether to implement a social media presence for their organization.


Using 3 structured interviews, 15 stakeholders were questioned on their personal experience with social media, experience within the context of public health, and their thoughts on implementation for their center. Interviews were coded using constant comparative qualitative methods.


The following themes emerged from the interviews: (1) personal experience with technology and social networking sites, (2) use of social networking sites in public health, (3) use of social networking sites in work environments, (4) social networking sites access, (5) ways the Rural South Public Health Training Center could use social networking sites, and (6) perceived outcomes of social networking site usage for the Rural South Public Health Training Center (positive and negative).


The collective voice of the center showed a positive perceived perception of social media implementation, with the benefits outweighing the risks. Despite the benefits, there is a cautious skepticism of the importance of social networking site use.


Facebook; Twitter; professional development; public health; social networking sites; training centers

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