Special Issue "COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Communication".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Carlos de las Heras-Pedrosa
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Audiovisual Communication and Advertising, Universidad de Málaga, Malaga, Spain
Interests: health communication; tourism communication; communication and social media; influencers on social media; institutional communication; stakeholder engagement
Dr. Carmen Jambrino-Maldonado
Website
Guest Editor
Departament of Business Administration, Universidad de Málaga, Malaga, Spain
Interests: Communication and Social Media; Corporate reputation; Health Communication; Smart Tourism Destination; Influencers on Social Media
Dr. Patricia P. Iglesias-Sánchez
Website
Guest Editor
Departament of Business Administration, Universidad de Málaga, Malaga, Spain
Interests: Communication and Social Media; Evaluation of the impact of social media ; Empowerment of consumers; New scenarios of consumption, Trust and co-creation environment; Involvement of stakeholders
Dr. Jose Ignacio Peláez-Sánchez
Website
Guest Editor
Applied Social Research Center (CISA). Dpto. Languajes and Computer Sciences. Biomedical Research Institute (IBIMA). Universidad de Málaga, Malaga, Spain
Interests: Opinion Mining; Sentiment Analysis; Consistency; Aggregation operators; Medical Diagnostic

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Health communication plays an important role for citizens. Society is increasingly using the Internet to obtain health information, share experiences related to pathological processes, or meet people with similar physical or psychological conditions. As information and communication technologies are being used in the field of health, terms such as e-patient or e-health are widely used. It demonstrates that citizens are aware of health topics and actively participate in the decision-making process and discussion in health issues. Social networks play a relevant role in this sense, with a progressive increase in their use in the health field. Factors such as accessibility, immediacy, or their potential to communicate bidirectionally with different audiences allow for active communication. Public health organizations face challenges in communication through traditional media and social networks and using them to promote interaction and collaboration between patients, families, and health professionals. However, the democratization of information through social media in the field of health means that social networks, blogs, or mobile social media have developed peer communication with an increasingly participative audience but above all, it has also made it more credible. Therefore, it confers greater communicational power to citizens and professionals in the sector when their messages reach a greater number of people. An increasing number of messages disseminated by social networks and mobile social networks are false and users do not contrast them when receiving them from friends or acquaintances. In the case of COVID-19, facts, not fear, will stop it, but how should public health organizations report it? Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the public health organizations of all countries are reporting the measures to be taken against the virus, each country has its own information and communication strategies. At the same time, it is a topic of special interest for the media that open their news with the situation of the COVID-19 in the world and their own countries. In this panorama of world crisis, the over-information that citizens receive through mass media and social networks is a key factor. Millions of messages are transmitted containing inaccurate information, creating moments of uncertainty, panic, and, in many cases, even xenophobia against other citizens, such as Chinese or Italians. To fight against xenophobia, the #IamNotAVirus has been used, in different languages, to try to raise awareness so that citizens are not discriminated against because of their race or home country. This Special Issue will analyze the communicative phenomenon that is happening in the world with respect to COVID-19 with articles of communication and health exploring the different information strategies that public health organizations use and the effects of fake news on social networks.

Dr. Carlos de las Heras-Pedrosa
Dr. Carmen Jambrino-Maldonado
Dr. Patricia P. Iglesias-Sánchez
Dr. José Ignacio Peláez-Sánchez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • health
  • health communication
  • social media
  • social networks
  • influencers on social media
  • fake news
  • over-information
  • xenophobia

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Media Exposure and Anxiety during COVID-19: The Mediation Effect of Media Vicarious Traumatization
by Cong Liu and Yi Liu
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4720; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134720 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
The rapid spread and high death rates of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in massive panic and anxiety all over the world. People rely heavily on media for information-seeking during the period of social isolation. This study aimed to explore the relationship between media [...] Read more.
The rapid spread and high death rates of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in massive panic and anxiety all over the world. People rely heavily on media for information-seeking during the period of social isolation. This study aimed to explore the relationship between media exposure and anxiety, and highlighted the underlying mechanisms mediated by the media vicarious traumatization effect. A total of 1118 Chinese citizens participated in the online survey, who were from 30 provinces in mainland China. Results showed that all four types of media (official media, commercial media, social media, and overseas media) cause vicarious traumatization to their audiences to different degrees. It was also found that the impact of media exposure on anxiety was mediated by media vicarious traumatization: there were full mediation effects for commercial media exposure and overseas media exposure, while there were indirect-only mediation effects for official media exposure and social media exposure. Audiences staying in cities with a relatively severe pandemic were more susceptible to the vicarious traumatization caused by commercial media compared to those staying in Hubei. This study expanded the concept and application of vicarious traumatization to the mediated context, and the findings provided insightful advice to media practitioners in the face of major crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
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Open AccessArticle
Is Lockdown Bad for Social Anxiety in COVID-19 Regions?: A National Study in The SOR Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4561; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124561 - 24 Jun 2020
Abstract
Lockdown measures have been widely used to control and prevent virus transmission in pandemic regions. However, the psychological effects of lockdown measures have been neglected, and the related theoretical research lags behind the practice. The present study aimed to better understand the mechanism [...] Read more.
Lockdown measures have been widely used to control and prevent virus transmission in pandemic regions. However, the psychological effects of lockdown measures have been neglected, and the related theoretical research lags behind the practice. The present study aimed to better understand the mechanism of social anxiety in pandemic regions where the lockdown measures were imposed, based on the conceptual framework of the Stimulus-Organism-Response (SOR). For that, this research investigated how lockdown measures and psychological distance influenced social anxiety in the pandemic region. The Chinese national data was analyzed for the outcome. The results showed that (1) psychological distance mediated the relationship between pandemic COVID-19 severity and social anxiety, (2) lockdown measures buffered the detrimental effect of the COVID-19 pandemic severity on social anxiety, (3) lockdown measures moderated the mediation effect of psychological distancing on social anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In conclusion, under the SOR framework, the lockdown measures had a buffer effect on social anxiety in pandemic regions, with the mediating role of psychological distancing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
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Open AccessArticle
Demand for Health Information on COVID-19 among Vietnamese
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4377; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124377 - 18 Jun 2020
Abstract
Due to the rapid spread of coronavirus, Vietnam introduced its first national partial lockdown on April 1st, 2020. The public relied on online sources, whether through official websites or phone-based applications, to acquire up-to-date health information, provide accurate instructions, and limit misinformation. This [...] Read more.
Due to the rapid spread of coronavirus, Vietnam introduced its first national partial lockdown on April 1st, 2020. The public relied on online sources, whether through official websites or phone-based applications, to acquire up-to-date health information, provide accurate instructions, and limit misinformation. This study aims to provide insight regarding the current level of awareness of the pandemic, and to identify associated factors in Vietnamese participants to recommend necessary interventions. A cross-sectional study was conducted using a web-based survey during the first week of the lockdown period. There were 341 observations collected using a snowball sampling technique. A Tobit multivariable regression model was used to identify factors associated with the demand for each category of health information. The most requested information was the latest updated news on the epidemic, followed by information about disease symptoms and updated news on the outbreak. The prevalence of diverse socioeconomic, demographic, and ethnic factors in Vietnam requires consideration of the specific health information needs of unique groups. Identifying group-specific demands would be helpful to provide proper information to fulfill each population group’s needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
Open AccessArticle
A Multidimensional Model of Public Health Approaches Against COVID-19
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3780; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17113780 - 26 May 2020
Abstract
COVID-19 is appearing as one of the most fetal disease of the world’s history and has caused a global health emergency. Therefore, this study was designed with the aim to address the issue of public response against COVID-19. The literature lacks studies on [...] Read more.
COVID-19 is appearing as one of the most fetal disease of the world’s history and has caused a global health emergency. Therefore, this study was designed with the aim to address the issue of public response against COVID-19. The literature lacks studies on social aspects of COVID-19. Therefore, the current study is an attempt to investigate its social aspects and suggest a theoretical structural equation model to examine the associations between social media exposure, awareness, and information exchange and preventive behavior and to determine the indirect as well as direct impact of social media exposure on preventive behavior from the viewpoints of awareness and information exchange. The current empirical investigation was held in Pakistan, and the collected survey data from 500 respondents through social media tools were utilized to examine the associations between studied variables as stated in the anticipated study model. The findings of the study indicate that social media exposure has no significant and direct effect on preventive behavior. Social media exposure influences preventive behavior indirectly through awareness and information exchange. In addition, awareness and information exchange have significant and direct effects on preventive behavior. Findings are valuable for health administrators, governments, policymakers, and social scientists, specifically for individuals whose situations are like those in Pakistan. This research validates how social media exposure indirectly effects preventive behavior concerning COVID-19 and explains the paths of effect through awareness or information exchange. To the best of our knowledge, there is no work at present that covers this gap, for this reason the authors propose a new model. The conceptual model offers valuable information for policymakers and practitioners to enhance preventive behavior through the adoption of appropriate awareness strategies and information exchange and social media strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
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Open AccessArticle
Coverage of Health Information by Different Sources in Communities: Implication for COVID-19 Epidemic Response
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3577; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103577 - 20 May 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Health personnel and community workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 emergency response and need to be equipped with adequate knowledge related to epidemics for an effective response. This study aimed to identify the coverage of COVID-19 health information via different [...] Read more.
Health personnel and community workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 emergency response and need to be equipped with adequate knowledge related to epidemics for an effective response. This study aimed to identify the coverage of COVID-19 health information via different sources accessed by health workers and community workers in Vietnam. A cross-sectional study using a web-based survey was carried out from January to February 2020 in Vietnam. Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) was used for recruiting participants. We utilized the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to examine the construct validity of the questionnaire. A higher percentage of participants knew about “Clinical and pathogen characteristics of COVID-19”, compared to “Regulations and policies related to COVID-19”. The percentage of participants accessing the information on “Guidelines and policies on prevention and control of COVID-19” was the lowest, especially among medical students. “Mass media and peer-educators” channels had a higher score of accessing COVID-19 information, compared to “Organizations/ agencies/ associations” sources. Participants consumed most of their COVID-19 information via “Internet, online newspapers, social networks”. Our findings indicate an urgency to re-design training programs and communication activities for a more effective dissemination of information related to the COVID-19 epidemic or epidemics in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
Open AccessArticle
A Preliminary Evaluation of the Public Risk Perception Related to the COVID-19 Health Emergency in Italy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3024; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093024 - 27 Apr 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Governments faced with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic are adopting strict and severe mitigation measures to influence people’s behaviors. Public perception of health risk plays a key role in the adoption of these actions, in people’s feelings, and in their daily habits. To [...] Read more.
Governments faced with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic are adopting strict and severe mitigation measures to influence people’s behaviors. Public perception of health risk plays a key role in the adoption of these actions, in people’s feelings, and in their daily habits. To support decision makers from international to local levels to face with future sanitary emergencies, this study aims at investigating Italian public perceptions of health risk. To this purpose, a questionnaire was designed and administered within the period of Italian COVID-19 lockdown and quarantine to almost 9000 citizens in Italy and abroad. The obtained results highlight a significative influence that mass media play on both the level of knowledge and the feelings of the respondents. The findings also point out future variations of some perceived behaviors consequent to the COVID-19 outbreak. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
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Open AccessCase Report
How to Defend COVID-19 in Taiwan? Talk about People’s Disease Awareness, Attitudes, Behaviors and the Impact of Physical and Mental Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4694; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134694 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
This study explored awareness, attitudes, and behavior in relation to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevention among Taiwanese citizens and their physical and mental health statuses. Through collection of 2132 questionnaire responses in field research, the present researchers analyzed the data using descriptive statistics [...] Read more.
This study explored awareness, attitudes, and behavior in relation to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prevention among Taiwanese citizens and their physical and mental health statuses. Through collection of 2132 questionnaire responses in field research, the present researchers analyzed the data using descriptive statistics and various approaches. In conclusion, the public’s high level of willingness to share information, sufficient knowledge of and consensus on epidemic prevention between individuals and families, strict compliance with relevant regulations, effective preventive measures, and adequate public facilities have contributed to control of COVID-19. However, vigilance and awareness of the pandemic in some individuals, epidemic-prevention campaigns, and community-based preventive measures were insufficient. Some citizens subsequently suffered from headaches, anxiety, and mood instability. Furthermore, demographic variables (place of residence, sex, age, and occupation) and physical and mental health status produced various effects on citizens’ awareness, attitude, and behavior regarding epidemic prevention as well as the perceived effect of COVID-19 on physical and mental health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
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Open AccessBrief Report
Characteristics of YouTube Videos in Spanish on How to Prevent COVID-19
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4671; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134671 - 29 Jun 2020
Abstract
Objective: To analyze the characteristics of YouTube videos in Spanish on the basic measures to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: On 18 March 2020, a search was conducted on YouTube using the terms “Prevencion Coronavirus” and “Prevencion COVID-19”. We studied the associations [...] Read more.
Objective: To analyze the characteristics of YouTube videos in Spanish on the basic measures to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: On 18 March 2020, a search was conducted on YouTube using the terms “Prevencion Coronavirus” and “Prevencion COVID-19”. We studied the associations between the type of authorship and the country of publication with other variables (such as the number of likes and basic measures to prevent COVID-19 according to the World Health Organization, among others) with univariate analysis and a multiple logistic regression model. Results: A total of 129 videos were evaluated; 37.2% were produced in Mexico (25.6%) and Spain (11.6%), and 56.6% were produced by mass media, including television and newspapers. The most frequently reported basic preventive measure was hand washing (71.3%), and the least frequent was not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth (24.0%). Hoaxes (such as eating garlic or citrus to prevent COVID-19) were detected in 15 videos (10.9%). In terms of authorship, papers produced by health professionals had a higher probability of reporting hand hygiene (OR (95% CI) = 4.20 (1.17–15.09)) and respiratory hygiene (OR (95% CI) = 3.05 (1.22–7.62)) as preventive measures. Conclusion: Information from YouTube in Spanish on basic measures to prevent COVID-19 is usually not very complete and differs according to the type of authorship. Our findings make it possible to guide Spanish-speaking users on the characteristics of the videos to be viewed in order to obtain reliable information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 Global Threat: Information or Panic)
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