Health Information Consumption under COVID-19 Lockdown: An Interview Study of Residents of Hubei Province, China
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Emerging infectious disease (EID) outbreaks such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic create unknown risks, uncertainty, and anxiety around the world. Accurate and timely information can help the public understand the outbreak and manage their lives. Presented here is a study of how residents of Hubei Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, use media for information seeking, scanning, and sharing while under lockdown through in-depth interviews. We find that (1) individuals primarily acquire information through information scanning from official governmental sources, (2) information sharing is more frequent with family members through private channels than with one's extended social networks and the general public through pubic channels mostly due to concerns with censorship, and (3) individuals' information need and information use change substantially during different stages of the outbreak. These findings provide insights into how individuals in China use different media for information during an unprecedented public health crisis and make sense of the limited and often confusing and contradictory information that is available to them. Such findings can inform future health communication efforts during EID outbreaks.
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