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      Media trust and infection mitigating behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis. It is becoming increasingly clear that people’s behavioural responses in the USA during this fast-changing pandemic are associated with their preferred media sources. The polarisation of US media has been reflected in politically motivated messaging around the coronavirus by some media outlets, such as Fox News. This resulted in different messaging around the risks of infection and behavioural changes necessary to mitigate that risk. This study determined if COVID-related behaviours differed according to trust in left-leaning or right-leaning media and how differences changed over the first several months of the pandemic.

          Methods

          Using the nationally representative Understanding America Study COVID-19 panel, we examine preventive and risky behaviours related to infection from COVID-19 over the period from 10 March to 9 June for people with trust in different media sources: one left-leaning, CNN and another right-leaning, Fox News. People’s media preferences are categorised into three groups: (1) those who trust CNN more than Fox News; (2) those who have equal or no preferences and (3) those who trust Fox News more than CNN.

          Results

          Results showed that compared with those who trust CNN more than Fox news, people who trust Fox News more than CNN engaged in fewer preventive behaviours and more risky behaviours related to COVID-19. Out of five preventive and five risky behaviours examined, people who trust Fox News more than CNN practised an average of 3.41 preventive behaviours and 1.25 risky behaviours, while those who trust CNN more than Fox News engaged in an average of 3.85 preventive and 0.94 risky behaviours, from late March to June. The difference between these two groups widened in the month of May (p≤0.01), even after controlling for access to professional information and overall diversity of information sources.

          Conclusions

          Our findings indicate that behavioural responses were divided along media bias lines. In such a highly partisan environment, false information can be easily disseminated, and health messaging, which is one of the few effective ways to slowdown the spread of the virus in the absence of a vaccine, is being damaged by politically biased and economically focused narratives. During a public health crisis, media should reduce their partisan stance on health information, and the health messaging from neutral and professional sources based on scientific findings should be better promoted.

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          Most cited references20

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          Crisis and emergency risk communication as an integrative model.

          This article describes a model of communication known as crisis and emergency risk communication (CERC). The model is outlined as a merger of many traditional notions of health and risk communication with work in crisis and disaster communication. The specific kinds of communication activities that should be called for at various stages of disaster or crisis development are outlined. Although crises are by definition uncertain, equivocal, and often chaotic situations, the CERC model is presented as a tool health communicators can use to help manage these complex events.
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            YouTube as a source of information on COVID-19: a pandemic of misinformation?

            Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic is this century’s largest public health emergency and its successful management relies on the effective dissemination of factual information. As a social media platform with billions of daily views, YouTube has tremendous potential to both support and hinder public health efforts. However, the usefulness and accuracy of most viewed YouTube videos on COVID-19 have not been investigated. Methods A YouTube search was performed on 21 March 2020 using keywords ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’, and the top 75 viewed videos from each search were analysed. Videos that were duplicates, non-English, non-audio and non-visual, exceeding 1 hour in duration, live and unrelated to COVID-19 were excluded. Two reviewers coded the source, content and characteristics of included videos. The primary outcome was usability and reliability of videos, analysed using the novel COVID-19 Specific Score (CSS), modified DISCERN (mDISCERN) and modified JAMA (mJAMA) scores. Results Of 150 videos screened, 69 (46%) were included, totalling 257 804 146 views. Nineteen (27.5%) videos contained non-factual information, totalling 62 042 609 views. Government and professional videos contained only factual information and had higher CSS than consumer videos (mean difference (MD) 2.21, 95% CI 0.10 to 4.32, p=0.037); mDISCERN scores than consumer videos (MD 2.46, 95% CI 0.50 to 4.42, p=0.008), internet news videos (MD 2.20, 95% CI 0.19 to 4.21, p=0.027) and entertainment news videos (MD 2.57, 95% CI 0.66 to 4.49, p=0.004); and mJAMA scores than entertainment news videos (MD 1.21, 95% CI 0.07 to 2.36, p=0.033) and consumer videos (MD 1.27, 95% CI 0.10 to 2.44, p=0.028). However, they only accounted for 11% of videos and 10% of views. Conclusion Over one-quarter of the most viewed YouTube videos on COVID-19 contained misleading information, reaching millions of viewers worldwide. As the current COVID-19 pandemic worsens, public health agencies must better use YouTube to deliver timely and accurate information and to minimise the spread of misinformation. This may play a significant role in successfully managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
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              Risk communication for public health emergencies.

              This review defines crisis risk communication, traces its origins to a number of applied fields, and then shows how basic principles have become incorporated into emergency preparedness and risk communication for public health. Literature from four different disciplines that inform crisis risk communications are reviewed. These are (a) environmental risk communication, (b) disaster management, (c) health promotion and communication, and (d) media and communication studies. Current curricula and training materials are briefly reviewed. Although this literature review suggests much progress has been made to incorporate and disseminate crisis risk communication principles into public health practice, and case studies suggest that public health workers have gained skills and experience, this emerging field still lacks in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness of event-specific crisis risk communication efforts.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMJ Glob Health
                BMJ Glob Health
                bmjgh
                bmjgh
                BMJ Global Health
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                2059-7908
                2020
                9 October 2020
                : 5
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1] departmentLeonard Davis School of Gerontology , University of Southern California , Los Angeles, California, USA
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Erfei Zhao; erfeizha@ 123456usc.edu

                EZ and QW are joint first authors.

                Article
                bmjgh-2020-003323
                10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003323
                7545496
                efe95914-a916-4171-a7a3-fc547eca988c
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000002, National Institutes of Health;
                Award ID: P30 AG017265
                Award ID: U01AG054580
                Categories
                Original Research
                1506
                1612
                2474
                Custom metadata
                unlocked
                press-release

                prevention strategies,public health,health education and promotion

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