Receptiveness and Responsiveness of Using Social Media for Safe Firearm Storage Outreach in Washington State: A Mixed-Methods Study

Esther Lam | 2019

Advisor: Ali Rowhani-Rahbar

Research Area(s): Epidemiologic Methods


Background: Childhood and adolescent firearm injury and death have increased over the past decade and become a major public health concern in the United States. There is a growing disparity in the incidence of these events occurring in rural compared to urban areas. Safe firearm storage have shown to be an effective measure to prevent firearm injury and death among youth. Objectives: To determine receptiveness and responsiveness in promoting lock box and trigger lock giveaway events on social media and describe characteristics of participants who find out about the event through social media. Methods: We conducted a mixed-methods study combining a content analysis of Facebook comments, quantitative analysis on positive and negative feedback on social media and a descriptive analysis of event participant characteristics. Through a qualitative content analysis approach, we thematically coded comments from each event posting. Inter-rater reliability and Kappa were calculated. Positive feedback data and negative feedback data were gathered. Prevalence of these feedback measures were calculated. Descriptive statistics for demographic characteristics gathered from event surveys were calculated. Chi-square and t tests were used to examine whether there was a significance difference between collected measures based on how the participant found out about the event. Chi-square test was used to examine if there were different categories of receptiveness based on whether the event location was urban or rural. Results: With a total of 414 comments from 13 events, we found 7 themes within the comment coding process with the most prevalent being positive receptiveness (71.0%). There was a greater proportion of positive feedback interactions compared to negative ones. Among all surveyed participants (n=4,059), approximately 35.7% found out about the event through social media. On average, the participants who found out about the event through social media were significantly younger than those who found out through other means (-6.5 years, p-value <0.01). There were 54.7% of participants who identified as females among those who found out about the event on social media compared to 32.9% who identified as females who found out about the event through other means (p-value<0.01). There was also a 91.31% intention to use the giveaway equipment in those who found about the event via social media compared to 84.78% in those who found out about the event through other means (p-value<0.01). There were no significant differences in receptiveness, responsiveness and demographic characteristics in regard to rurality and urbanicity. Conclusions: Though firearm storage can be a sensitive and controversial topic, there is positive receptiveness and responsiveness towards these events when they are promoted on social media. Using social media, there was the ability to target a younger population and a larger proportion of females. Social media targeting was more likely to reach a younger, female population. There also seems to be a correlation higher levels of intention to use equipment from the event when individuals found out about the event through social media compared to more traditional means. Future studies should extend this research to find if there is a difference in these findings for rural compared to urban settings.