Online social networking in discussions of risk: applying the CAUSE model in a content analysis of Facebook

Christy J.W. Ledford, La Kesha N. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This article examines a drug manufacturer's dissemination of an over-the-counter medication voluntary recall message through its online social network. Using the CAUSE model as a theoretical framework, we extended the application of media content analysis to investigate social media presentation of risk. Researchers used a deductive coding scheme to analyse messages posted on the manufacturer's Facebook page for 10 days from the announcement of the recall. Consumers interacted with one another and with the corporation as they sought information and support through the recall discussion on Facebook. The drug manufacturer addressed all five communication challenges outlined by CAUSE in its recall communication, while consumers used the social network to seek and to share information both positively and negatively with regard to the recall and the potential risk. The analysis presented in this study highlights the importance of providing steps that are simple and clear in a product recall, and of supporting consumers' beliefs in their self-efficacy or ability to enact these steps; problems in this domain led to much of the dissatisfaction expressed by consumers. Our findings indicate that consumers engaged in active discussion with other consumers and with the manufacturer in online social networking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • CAUSE model
  • content analysis
  • medication
  • risk
  • risk communication
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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