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      Protecting the community: How digital media promotes safer behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic in authoritarian communities—a case study of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel

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      New Media & Society
      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in new behaviors and digital practices. This study explores how digital media has advanced safer behavior among ultra-Orthodox Israeli adults during the pandemic in authoritarian societies. We explored the level of adherence to government-issued health guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic by conducting a public opinion survey among a representative sample of ultra-Orthodox Israeli adults ( N = 500) during the second Covid-19 wave (Autumn 2020). The results show that digital media usage significantly contributes to higher levels of adherence to health guidelines. This offers new insight into the field of new media research, revealing the significant role of digital media in promoting safer behavior in times of emergency in authoritarian communities, possibly because it bypasses Internet censorship and disinformation. It also emphasizes the need for adapting risk communication to the media habits and cultural beliefs of different social groups, in turn contributing to well-being and life itself.

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          Is Open Access

          Using the Internet to Promote Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Impact of Theoretical Basis, Use of Behavior Change Techniques, and Mode of Delivery on Efficacy

          Background The Internet is increasingly used as a medium for the delivery of interventions designed to promote health behavior change. However, reviews of these interventions to date have not systematically identified intervention characteristics and linked these to effectiveness. Objectives The present review sought to capitalize on recently published coding frames for assessing use of theory and behavior change techniques to investigate which characteristics of Internet-based interventions best promote health behavior change. In addition, we wanted to develop a novel coding scheme for assessing mode of delivery in Internet-based interventions and also to link different modes to effect sizes. Methods We conducted a computerized search of the databases indexed by ISI Web of Knowledge (including BIOSIS Previews and Medline) between 2000 and 2008. Studies were included if (1) the primary components of the intervention were delivered via the Internet, (2) participants were randomly assigned to conditions, and (3) a measure of behavior related to health was taken after the intervention. Results We found 85 studies that satisfied the inclusion criteria, providing a total sample size of 43,236 participants. On average, interventions had a statistically small but significant effect on health-related behavior (d+ = 0.16, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.23). More extensive use of theory was associated with increases in effect size (P = .049), and, in particular, interventions based on the theory of planned behavior tended to have substantial effects on behavior (d+ = 0.36, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.56). Interventions that incorporated more behavior change techniques also tended to have larger effects compared to interventions that incorporated fewer techniques (P < .001). Finally, the effectiveness of Internet-based interventions was enhanced by the use of additional methods of communicating with participants, especially the use of short message service (SMS), or text, messages. Conclusions The review provides a framework for the development of a science of Internet-based interventions, and our findings provide a rationale for investing in more intensive theory-based interventions that incorporate multiple behavior change techniques and modes of delivery.
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            Public perceptions, anxiety, and behaviour change in relation to the swine flu outbreak: cross sectional telephone survey

            Objective To assess whether perceptions of the swine flu outbreak predicted changes in behaviour among members of the public in England, Scotland, and Wales. Design Cross sectional telephone survey using random digit dialling. Setting Interviews by telephone between 8 and 12 May. Participants 997 adults aged 18 or more who had heard of swine flu and spoke English. Main outcome measures Recommended change in behaviour (increases in handwashing and surface cleaning or plans made with a “flu friend”) and avoidance behaviours (engaged in one or more of six behaviours such as avoiding large crowds or public transport). Results 37.8% of participants (n=377) reported performing any recommended behaviour change “over the past four days . . . because of swine flu.” 4.9% (n=49) had carried out any avoidance behaviour. Controlling for personal details and anxiety, recommended changes were associated with perceptions that swine flu is severe, that the risk of catching it is high risk, that the outbreak will continue for a long time, that the authorities can be trusted, that good information has been provided, that people can control their risk of catching swine flu, and that specific behaviours are effective in reducing the risk. Being uncertain about the outbreak and believing that the outbreak had been exaggerated were associated with a lower likelihood of change. The strongest predictor of behaviour change was ethnicity, with participants from ethnic minority groups being more likely to make recommended changes (odds ratio 3.2, 95% confidence interval 2.0 to 5.3) and carry out avoidance behaviours (4.1, 2.0 to 8.4). Conclusions The results support efforts to inform the public about specific actions that can reduce the risks from swine flu and to communicate about the government’s plans and resources. Tackling the perception that the outbreak has been “over-hyped” may be difficult but worthwhile. Additional research is required into differing reactions to the outbreak among ethnic groups.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                New Media & Society
                New Media & Society
                SAGE Publications
                1461-4448
                1461-7315
                February 04 2022
                : 146144482110636
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
                Article
                10.1177/14614448211063621
                e1e8c384-dcfa-462c-a957-36d924c293bc
                © 2022

                http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license

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