The Expert Next Door: Interactions With Friends and Family During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Andrea R. Molino, Kathleen M. Andersen, Simone B. Sawyer, Lan N. Doàn, Yonaira M. Rivera, Bryan D. James, Matthew P. Fox, Eleanor J. Murray, Lucy D.Agostino McGowan, Brooke A. Jarrett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic thrust the field of public health into the spotlight. For many epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and other public health professionals, this caused the professional aspects of our lives to collide with the personal, as friends and family reached out with concerns and questions. Learning how to navigate this space was new for many of us and required refining our communication style depending on context, setting, and audience. Some of us took to social media, utilizing our existing personal accounts to share information after sorting through and summarizing the rapidly emerging literature to keep loved ones safe. However, those in our lives sometimes asked unanswerable questions, or began distancing themselves when we suggested more stringent guidance than they had hoped for, causing additional stress during an already traumatic time. We often had to remind ourselves that we were also individuals experiencing this pandemic and that our time-intensive efforts were meaningful, relevant, and impactful. As this pandemic and other public health crises continue, we encourage members of our discipline to consider how we can best use shared lessons from this period and to recognize that our professional knowledge, when used in our personal lives, can promote, protect, and bolster confidence in public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-556
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology


  • COVID-19
  • communication
  • coronavirus disease 2019
  • health communication
  • minority health
  • pandemics
  • social media
  • vaccine hesitancy


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