COVID-19 has highlighted an opportunity for medical professionals to engage in online Public Engagement with Science (PES). Currently a popular platform for PES is Reddit. Reddit provides an Ask Me Anything (AMA) format for subject matter experts to answer questions asked by the public. On March 11, 2020, from 2:00 to 4:00pm EST, two Emergency Department physicians from Massachusetts General Hospital hosted an AMA session on coronavirus. We retroactively conducted an analysis of the questions and answers from this AMA session in order to better understand the public's concerns around coronavirus and identify future opportunities for medical experts to leverage the Reddit AMA format in communicating with the general public. Results suggested that participants sought not only to obtain information, but to engage in discussion, and did so with each other in the absence of expert responses. The majority of bi-directional discussion occurred between participants. Due to the volume of questions and ratio of experts to participants, not all questions were answered. More posts provided facts or opinions, than posts that providing resources or requesting resources.
betacoronavirus, COVID-10, coronavirus infections, pandemics, information dissemination, information seeking behavior, viral pneuomnia, emergency services, public opinion
Lai D, Wang D, Calvano J, Raja AS, He S. Addressing Immediate Public Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concerns Through Social Media: Utilizing Reddit's AMA as a Framework for Public Engagement With Science. PLoS One. 2020; 15(10). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240326.