New report from TCNJ's public health program finds surprising connection between social instability and government vaccine promotion in the media.
These startling findings demonstrate the importance of original research to challenge conventional wisdom.
EWING, NJ November 10, 2022 – A recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Europe. Fears of an upcoming virus-surge this winter. And a lagging booster rate in the U.S. These signs spell trouble for the prospects of moving beyond the pandemic. Amid grim predictions, a new study from public health students and faculty in the newly rebranded School of Nursing and Health Sciences (SNHS) at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) finds media outlets in socially unstable nations are more supportive of government vaccine efforts.
Senior student-author, Mia Gomes, Class of 2023, explains, “This cross-national study’s findings are surprising. Media in less socially stable (often developing) countries are notorious for often representing elite interests, but they appear to represent the interests of the most vulnerable in this instance, calling for more government intervention to reduce vaccine hesitancy.” Peer-coauthors include Danielle Nicoletti, Jai Sookram, Jessica Farrell and Courtney Sacco, all of whom attend or graduated from The College of New Jersey.
Gomes, a public health student, presented the study, “Cross-national news coverage of vaccine hesitancy: Community structure theory, political instability, and privilege,” at the biannual April 2022 University of Kentucky Health Communication Conference in Lexington, KY—the oldest national health communication conference in the U.S.
Leaning on a Global Peace Index—a renowned measurement of national security and stability—the investigation compares media coverage across 19 nations and in every continent, ranging from Turkey to Thailand and Russia to Zambia. Overall, social instability is robustly connected to media coverage emphasizing more government responsibility for COVID-19 responses.
TCNJ Professor of Communication Studies and Public Health, and the paper’s scholar-coauthor, Dr. John C. Pollock, says, “Although relatively privileged countries buffered from economic uncertainty can be expected to support government efforts to help the less fortunate, in this case countries privileged by high levels of stock investment from other countries and with high female life expectancy surprisingly manifested less media support for government efforts to reduce vaccine hesitancy. These startling findings demonstrate the importance of original research to challenge conventional wisdom."
TCNJ’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences’ Dean Carole Kenner explains, “This groundbreaking study suggests that people in more socially stable countries like the U.S. aren’t just confused about getting a booster shot, but they might not receive media encouragement to do so. Our pioneering students and faculty remain field-leaders in public health and the broader health sciences sector, and our School is proud to offer helpful insights to key decision-makers—locally and nationally.” The School rebranded in 2022 to reflect its robust and diverse, cross-disciplinary health science curricula.
TCNJ’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences educates aspiring health professionals to become future leaders across the healthcare industry. Faculty work closely with local healthcare partners to provide students with applicative skills and foundational knowledge. The nationally acclaimed school is dedicated to preparing individuals—through programs in nursing, public health, exercise science and physical education teaching—for the many rewards of guiding people, communities, and populations toward improved health outcomes. The School is nationally recognized as a Healthy People 2030 Champion.
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