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1000 Hometown Heroes: Mobilising community social influencers for COVID-19 prevention, care and coping. Health Soc Care Community 2022 Nov;30(6):e5703-e5713



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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) created life-disrupting stressors that disproportionately burden disadvantaged communities with devastating impacts that extend far beyond the burden of the disease itself, including joblessness, housing and food insecurity, educational system upheavals, isolation due to disrupted relationships, worsened mental health and substance use and violence. Socially interconnected community members are resources whose efforts can be mobilised to improve COVID-19 coping within their social networks. This research examined the feasibility, acceptability, and reach of a social media-based peer influencer intervention for COVID-19 coping. Over a 9-month period in 2020, the project enrolled 1253 social influencers in Milwaukee-primarily ethnic and racial minorities-who regularly received and passed along messages to members of their social networks that provided advice about COVID-19 pandemic coping, economic survival, health protection, mental health, family needs, social justice and other impacts. Messages were shared by influencers with others over social media and also text messages, phone calls and conversations. Facebook social media tracking metrics objectively measured the community reach of social influencers' messages. Quantitative surveys and qualitative follow-up interviews with a subset of influencers also measured the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention. Social media monitoring metrics showed that, by the end of the project, influencers' messages reached an average of 7978 unique individuals per week and had an average of 13,894 total views per week, with more than 140,000 total cumulative organic impressions. More than half of social influencers indicated that-beyond Facebook message sharing-they shared COVID-19 prevention, care, and coping messages with social network members in conversations, phone calls and text messages. Social influencers reported that they valued having the opportunity to help community members to cope with pandemic stressors by conveying practical COVID-19 coping advice.

Author List

Kelly JA, Walsh JL, Christenson E, Glasman LR, Galletly CL, Quinn KG, Algiers OH, Pearson B, Amirkhanian YA, 1000 Hometown Heroes Project Team


Yuri A. Amirkhanian PhD Professor in the Psychiatry department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Steven A. John PhD Assistant Professor in the Psychiatry department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Jennifer L. Walsh PhD Associate Professor in the Psychiatry department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adaptation, Psychological
Social Media
Text Messaging