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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Trending health narratives : the Zika virus outbreak 2015-16 in Brazil Moura Lopes, Luiz Henrique


This study explores the intersections of social media and health communication, focusing on the trending narratives on Twitter during the 2015-16 Zika virus outbreak, in Brazil. It examines how social media data provides insights into current media practices, as a way of improving health communication strategies and literacy during epidemics. This project uses a qualitative study framework to illustrate the phenomenon under examination, drawing a theoretical thematic analysis as a method (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Findings from this thesis reveal how increases in Zika-related news commentaries seemed to have shifted the topics and the tone of Zika-related conversations on Twitter. This project further explores the interconnectedness between the volume of Zika-related mentions on Twitter and external media events, which echoes relevant scholarship (Fu et al., 2016; Dredze, Broniatowski & Hilyard, 2016). Finally, it also discusses the opportunities and limitations of social media for health communication, addressing traditional inequalities and power dynamics.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International