Saturday, July 13, 2024

Impact of Information Sources on COVID-19 Measures Adherence in Austria

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The COVID-19 pandemic prompted governments worldwide to implement public health measures, particularly non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), to curb the virus’s spread. Ensuring public agreement and adherence to these measures became a crucial focus. While previous research explored the role of COVID-19 information sources and personal characteristics, there remains a gap in studies that incorporate both aspects simultaneously. This study addresses this gap by examining the relationship between COVID-19 information sources, such as social media, and various sociodemographic and personal attributes with agreement and adherence to NPIs during the initial lockdown in Austria.

An online survey in May 2020 targeted adult residents of Austria, capturing their experiences during the first lockdown. Data collected included sociodemographic details, main sources of COVID-19 information, agreement with and adherence to three specific NPIs (no physical contact with non-household family members, restricting leisurely walks to household members, and mandatory face masks), and perceived social support using the MSPSS.

Survey Methodology and Participant Characteristics

Participants also reported their anxiety and depression levels using the HADS, their perception of government advisories, and the perceived economic threat of the pandemic. The study employed ordered and multinomial logistic regression models to analyze the data.

The cross-sectional sample included 559 Austrian residents. The findings revealed that reliance on social media as the primary COVID-19 information source was linked to lower agreement with NPIs. Conversely, higher educational backgrounds and heightened anxiety levels correlated positively with agreement to the measures.

Key Findings and Implications

In contrast, higher levels of depression, feeling poorly advised by the government, and viewing the pandemic as an economic threat were negatively associated with agreement to NPIs. Additionally, using social media as the main information source and feeling poorly informed by the government correlated with lower adherence to NPIs. Higher education levels were associated with greater adherence.

This comprehensive analysis underscores the significant associations between COVID-19 information sources, sociodemographic characteristics, and agreement with and adherence to NPIs. These findings hold vital implications for future public health crisis communication strategies, emphasizing the need for reliable information dissemination and addressing sociodemographic disparities.

Concrete Inferences for Policy and Practice

– Social media as a primary information source can undermine public agreement and adherence to health measures.

– Higher educational attainment is a positive predictor of compliance with public health directives.

– Addressing mental health, particularly anxiety and depression, is crucial in enhancing public cooperation during health crises.

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– Government transparency and effective communication are critical in securing public trust and compliance with NPIs.

Future public health strategies must prioritize accurate and trustworthy information dissemination, address educational disparities, and consider mental health impacts to improve public agreement and adherence to health measures.

Original Article: BMC Public Health. 2024 Jun 12;24(1):1576. doi: 10.1186/s12889-024-19061-0.

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