Exploring how and why parents share health information on social media

The Challenge

The problems associated with viral misinformation is well-documented with regards to politics and international affairs, but less so for health information. As false news is 70% more likely than verified news to receive a retweet, the spread of health misinformation on social media could be having an impact on the decisions people make about how to keep themselves and their families healthy.

The Solution

“Finding ways that help the public play their own role in Wellcome’s mission to improve health is core to our work in Public Engagement. We want to empower more people to feel able to access, challenge and respond to health research. To do that, we need clearer understanding of how people use and share health information, and understand their experience of health and science. We’re excited about this collaboration with Shift because of its potential to provide evidence and real insight into a complex issue.”

Farrah Nazir, Acting Creative & Partnerships Lead, Wellcome

A research project investigating the spread of health information on social media from the point of view of parents, using information about vaccinations as a case study.

Stats and Facts

Digital diaries: 20 parents contributed over 1700 posts and 1000 screenshots of social media posts.

These parents all use social media everyday and use it to access and share health information, are ‘vaccine thoughtful’ i.e. considered carefully whether or not to vaccinate their child and were either at the low or high end of the household income spectrum as this is where the literature suggests vaccine hesitancy is highest.

Interviews: 10 parents selected from the pool of 20 to meet face to face in their homes

Workshop: 25 participants from a range of backgrounds and expertise including journalists, health psychologists, tech start-ups and science communicators took part in an opportunity identification workshop convened by Shift.

Opportunities: 5 big opportunity spaces for improving the utility and spread of high quality health information on social media were identified through collaboration with the workshop participants






Dr Tom Stafford, Health Psychologist at Sheffield University

Do you want to get involved? We'd love to hear from you
Email me - duncan.brown@shiftdesign.org.uk