Original Research

A structured literature review of the health infodemic on social media in Africa

Charity Hove, Liezel Cilliers
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 15, No 1 | a1484 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v15i1.1484 | © 2023 Charity Hove, Liezel Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 February 2023 | Published: 29 September 2023

About the author(s)

Charity Hove, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Liezel Cilliers, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa

Abstract

Infodemics is a multi-faceted threat that needs to be dealt with by governments during public health emergencies. This strategic review described the role of social media platforms in creating and reinforcing an infodemic during health pandemics in Africa. The inclusion criteria for the review were African research on infodemics on social media during pandemics, epidemics or endemics in the past 10 years. A structured literature review, making use of the Sample, Phenomenon of Interest, Design, Evaluation, Research (SPIDER) scoping review methodology framework, identified scholarly publications from various academic databases. A total of 41 articles met the eligibility criteria. The six factors identified included stakeholders, socio-economic context, conspiracy theories, sources of information, government responses and verification mechanisms. The findings of this study indicate that governments needs to include infodemics in the risk communication strategy for public health emergencies. Verification of misinformation can mitigate the effects of conspiracy theories while the socio-economic context of the audience will influence planning strategies to mitigate infodemics on social media.

Contribution: This study contributes to the knowledge base of risk communication during pandemics in Africa by providing a review of how infodemics on social media have influenced the COVID-19 pandemic on the continent. The results also provide a foundation for the research agenda in this research field that will provide an evidence-based response to the pandemic in Africa.


Keywords

infodemic; social media; COVID-19; risk communication; Africa; misinformation; COVID-19 pandemic.

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