Special Issue "The Role of New Technology in Promoting Public Health during Crises"

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Alice Cheng
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Communication, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
Interests: social media effects; artificial intelligence; public health; crisis communication

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As unpredictable incidents, crises could ruin the reputation of an organization and lead to negative outcomes for the public. The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, for instance, a disease outbreak caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has significantly affected public health in a global context. Millions of people have lost their lives due to COVID-19, and modern society is facing uncertainties due to this disease and continuous social distancing measures. New technologies such as social media platforms play a critical role in fulfilling diverse needs, such as information needs, social needs such as connecting with friends and family, and the fun or enjoyment obtained from entertainment. AI-powered chatbots could help to facilitate public mental health by instantly responding to patients’ questions. Smart mobile devices make health information accessible anytime and anywhere.

On the one hand, the wide application of new technologies such as social media, artificial intelligence (AI) powered tools, or smartphone mobile devices is paramount for public health, especially during a crisis situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, while these new types of technologies transform traditional health communication and lead to innovative digital solutions, they face challenges from misinformation or disinformation during crises. How to overcome public hesitation and promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance via new technologies might become an important research topic.

This Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) focuses on the role of new technologies, such as social media, AI-powered chatbots, or other smart mobile devices, in promoting public health during crises. Academic research articles, commentaries, or case reports are welcome in this Special Issue. We will accept submissions from different disciplines, such as public health, crisis communication, and risk assessment and management.  

Dr. Alice Cheng
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • public health
  • crisis management
  • risk assessment
  • vaccine hesitation
  • social media
  • artificial intelligence
  • health communication
  • media impact
  • health impact
  • digital health
  • mobile devices
  • covid-19 pandemic
  • misinformation

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Duanzi as Networked Practice: How Online Satire Shapes Psychological Well-Being, Social Support, and Issue Knowledge for Chinese with Different Social Capital during COVID-19 Outbreaks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9783; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18189783 - 17 Sep 2021
Viewed by 314
Practices oriented to digital technologies are being invented to change how people cope with crises. This study examines how Chinese netizens’ networked practices (e.g., liking, sharing, or commenting) with COVID-19 related duanzi (short online satires) influenced their psychological well-being, external social support, and [...] Read more.
Practices oriented to digital technologies are being invented to change how people cope with crises. This study examines how Chinese netizens’ networked practices (e.g., liking, sharing, or commenting) with COVID-19 related duanzi (short online satires) influenced their psychological well-being, external social support, and issue knowledge during the pandemic. The role of social capital in moderating these relations is explored. Findings from the survey demonstrate that the act of “liking” a COVID-19 duanzi on WeChat has become a routine practice for Chinese netizens to kill time during the quarantine. However, the more bonding social capital one already had, the less they depended on duanzi “liking” to kill their boredom. Those less supported outside the family household, or less knowledgeable about the virus were also more likely to share a COVID-19 duanzi. Bonding social capital promotes one’s well-being, therefore, the positive psychological effect of duanzi sharing or commenting grows more pronounced for netizens with more bonding social capital. Bridging social capital brought external social support. Netizens with more bridging social capital obtained more external support and more COVID-19 knowledge from duanzi sharing. The theoretical and practical implications are elaborated in the conclusions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of New Technology in Promoting Public Health during Crises)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The Influence of Information Pattern, Media Literacy, and Collective Identity on Health Civic Engagement amid the Global Health Crisis: Results from a Randomized Survey Experiment in China
Authors: Qiaolei Jiang; Yue Hu
Affiliation: Qiaolei Jiang, Yue Hu
Abstract: Background: As a truly global crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the communities worldwide. People around the world are not only fighting an epidemic, but also fighting an infodemic, an overabundance of information and misinformation, both online and offline. Meanwhile, amid the global pandemic, “information as intervention” perspective has also been highly valued. Methods: This quantitative study attempts to investigate the influence of information pattern, media literacy, and collective identity on health civic engagement, with specific attention paid to public health campaign via social media. A nationwide questionnaire survey was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic among young Chinese aged 35 and below (N=2,211), with a randomized survey experiment to examine the influencing factors of health civic engagement. Results: Active seeking, passive receiving, and the news-find-me perception as information patterns, media literacy, and fan identity as a popular collective identity among young Chinese were found to positively affect health civic engagement. Further, the experiments demonstrated stronger power from fandom than idols as key opinion leaders in mobilizing the young’s participation in the public health campaign via social media. Conclusion: This research examined the influence of “information as intervention” during the global pandemic, and found a strong character of autonomy of fandom as a popular collective identity among the young in health civic engagement. This study provides implications for policy makers and professionals to conduct public health campaigns via various media channels and platforms during the global crises.

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