Short Animated Videos on Social Media May Help Increase Knowledge of Vaccines


Findings from a recent study showed that participants who watched a video discussing COVID-19 vaccination had significantly higher knowledge scores compared to those who did not watch it.

Short, animated, story-based videos can help effectively increase knowledge about COVID-19 vaccination and serve as a useful public health communication tool, according to new research published in the journal Internet Interventions.1

Vaccine hesitancy has remained a threat to public health and was only exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic with the proliferation of misinformation on social media platforms. Short, animated videos have demonstrated an ability to enhance vaccine knowledge and modulating behaviors, but strong data is currently lacking.

“[T]here is burgeoning evidence demonstrating the potential for social media to serve as a powerful conduit for public health promotion,” the authors wrote. “Utilization of these platforms for the dissemination of scientifically validated health information could serve as an effective strategy to counter vaccine hesitancy.”

Investigators from the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health in Germany conducted a study to evaluate the impact of short, animated videos on knowledge acquisition, behavioral intent, and engagement pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination. The online randomized clinical trial included 792 adult participants from the United States.

Of the participants, 57.4% were female, 53.2% were between the ages of 25 to 44, 37.6% had a bachelor’s degree, and 80.4% were White or Caucasian. Politically, 20.2% of the participants identified as extreme left and 22.6% identified as right of center. In terms of vaccination, 20.3% were not vaccinated, 4.9% were vaccinated 1 time, 24.1% were vaccinated 2 times, 43.8% were vaccinated 3 times, and 6.8% were vaccinated more than 3 times.

The study participants were assigned randomly into 1 of 3 arms: the first arm viewed a video on COVID-19 vaccines, the second arm viewed a video on the topic of hope that was unrelated to COVID-19, and the third arm did not watch any video. To ensure that participants paid attention, an attention-check was asked following the video, followed by 24 multiple-choice questions on vaccine-related knowledge and 18 questions on vaccine-associated self-perceptions.

Investigators found that participants who watched the COVID-19 video had significantly higher knowledge scores compared to the other 2 groups, but there was no statistically significant relationship between the video and behavioral intent. The COVID-19 video was seen to increase scores in perceived response efficacy, social norms, and self-efficacy.

Additionally, key factors of vaccine hesitancy identified by the investigators included trust in government bodies/institutions/health care providers, perceived susceptibility to COVID-19 infection, perceived response efficacy of the vaccine, self-efficacy, perceived social norms, and sociodemographic factors.

Study limitations included that participants were compensated which may have influenced motivation, that only native English speakers were included, that the study included a small number of right-leaning participants, and that the sample size was not sufficiently large.

“Short, animated, story-based videos may be effective in making health information accessible, indirectly influencing behavior, and potentially working well on social media platforms,” the authors concluded. “This combination of factors offers hope for modern public health communication strategies that can address the challenges posed by globalization and technological innovations.”

1. Beleites F, Adam M, Favaretti C, et al. Evaluating the impact of short animated videos on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy: An online randomized controlled trial, Internet Interv. Volume 35, 2024.
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