Unraveling Public Health Crises Across Stages: Understanding Twitter Emotions and Message Types During the California Measles Outbreak Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019, 2019 Central States Communication Association. Social media can be used to assess public opinions and emotions during different stages of a crisis. Guided by the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) model, this study examined a systematic sample of 2,881 tweets from a corpus of over one million tweets posted during the initial, maintenance, and resolution stages of the 2015 California measles outbreak. It found that the public showed the greatest interest (as measured by the number of tweets and retweets) in the initial stage of the crisis, but their interest drastically declined afterward. The expression of humor/sarcasm was significantly more frequent in the initial stage than in the maintenance or resolutions stage, while the expression of reassurance increased significantly from the initial, maintenance, and resolution stage. The emotion of alarm/concern was most frequently expressed during the initial stage. For message types, the public were more likely to tweet about their personal opinions and less likely to tweet about resources during the initial stage. These findings allow public health professionals to better design messages in response to the publics concerns and emotions during public health crises.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Meadows, C. W., Meadows, C. Z., Tang, L. u., & Liu, W.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Meadows, Charles W||Meadows, Cui Zhang||Tang, Lu||Liu, Wenlin

publication date

  • August 2019