By THE NATION
The study, published in the CU journal January-June edition, was among 100 academic articles to be presented at the 2nd National Communication Academic Conference on July 14 that the CU Faculty of Communication Arts – along with the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA)’s Graduate School of Communication Arts and Innovation Management and the Thammasat University’s Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication – will host at its premises in the capital.
In his thesis titled “Influence of Opinion Leaders in Online Social Network on Perception, Attitude and Decision Making towards Mental Healthcare Service”, Pitchakorn Pumpayung pointed out that those who separated from their spouses or their spouses had died might need information as a guideline to continue living in peace and happiness after the loss. Hence they were more keen on opening up to information presented by Thai social media’s “opinion leaders”, who interpreted the meaning of media messages or content for lower-end media users, so that they could use such information to cope with their feelings and situations.
The quantitative research surveyed opinions via questionnaires to collect data from 400 people who were following mental health opinion leaders in social networks. It also found the information passed from the “opinion leaders” via social media to others had somewhat influenced the latter in their decision making whether to seek mental healthcare services.
Other interesting findings included; women appeared to be more exposed and have a good attitude towards online opinion leaders; young people were more likely to receive and share the word of mouth of online “opinion leaders” about mental healthcare services than the older persons; those with undergraduate education or lower had more exposure to the online information given by the “opinion leaders” than people with higher education; and those with lower financial means had a better attitude towards mental healthcare services than those who were richer.
NIDA graduate school dean Yubol Benjarongkij hoped that the various researches presented at the upcoming event would provide some answers to society and the Thai academic circle while serving as an encouragement for Thai researchers to conduct credible and practical studies.
TU faculty dean Adchara Panthanuwong hoped the event – as well as other academic collaborations between the three universities – would boost the institutes’ Thai Journal Citation Index ranking from the current “TCI 2” to “TCI 1” soon.