The importance of genuineness in public engagement—an exploratory study of pediatric communication on social media in China

Wenze Lu, Cindy Sing Bik Ngai, Lu Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


There is a growing need for the public to interact with pediatricians through social media in China, and genuineness is a crucial factor contributing to effective communication, but few studies have examined the relationship between genuineness and its effect on public engagement. This study developed a four-dimension framework including self-disclosure, genuine response, functional interactivity, and genuineness in Chinese culture to investigate the effect of genuineness in the communication of Chinese social media influencers in pediatrics on public engagement. Content analysis was employed to examine these dimensions and the related public engagement in 300 social media posts on the largest microblogging site in China. The findings indicate that genuine response was positively associated with the number of comments and positive comments, while negatively related to the number of shares. Functional interactivity made the site more appealing, resulting in likes and shares. Genuineness in Chinese culture was reflected in engagement through sharing posts by the public. This study is the first to develop an integrated framework to measure genuineness in online health communication and contributes to the understanding of the effect of genuineness on Chinese public engagement in social media.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7078
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Genuineness
  • Online communication
  • Pediatrics
  • Public engagement
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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