Term of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health in Public Health Leadership (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Policy and Management (COPH)

Committee Chair

Gulzar Shah

Committee Member 1

Jeffery Jones

Committee Member 2

Samuel Opoku


Background: The health system in the United States is rapidly advancing, including newer technologies, newer ways of delivering essential public health services and population health. Approximately 70% of the public uses social media as a communication tool, which makes it an ideal platform for dissemination of information. Local health departments (LHDs) are accountable for assuring ten essential public health services, including informing, educating, and empowering people about health issues. Previous research showed less than 70% of LHDs are adequately performing this essential service. The purpose of this study was to examine what factors impact the use of social media by LHDs to communicate with the public. Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional study design, using data from the 2016 NACCHO profile of local health departments. The data assessed for this study was derived from a set of questions in a module containing the questions of interest for this study related to social media utilization. Results: Results varied across platforms but showed significant associations between social media use and: youngest executives, larger populations, higher expenditures, locally governed LHDs, greater informatics use, greater communication channel use, LHDs employing Public Information Professionals, change in annual budget, PHAB accreditation status, top executive degree, top executive length of service, and top executive race. Conclusion: LHDs can utilize these results as a starting point for training and education for employees and leaders. As more people utilize social media platforms for communicating, understanding the LHD characteristics that influence social media use can be vital for designing an effective system to reach audiences in the community for public health education. The strategic addition of new policies and procedures related to social media use at the executive level are needed in order to ensure public health essential service #3 is being sufficiently reached.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material