Public information needs and preferences on COVID-19: a cross-sectional study

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6 Zitate (Scopus)


Background: Right from the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic the general public faced the challenge to find reliable and understandable information in the overwhelming flood of information. To enhance informed decision-making, evidence-based information should be provided. Aim was to explore the general public’s information needs and preferences on COVID-19 as well as the barriers to accessing evidence-based information. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study. Nine hundred twenty-seven panel members were invited to an online survey (12/2020-02/2021). The HeReCa-online-panel is installed at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg to assess regularly the general public’s view on health issues in five regions in Germany. The survey was set up in LimeSurvey, with nine items, multiple-choice and open-ended questions that allowed to gather qualitative data. Quantitative data were analysed descriptively and a content analysis was carried out to categorise the qualitative data. Results: Six hundred thirty-six panel members provided data; mean age 52 years, 56.2% female, and 64.9% with higher education qualifications. Asked about relevant topics related to COVID-19, most participants selected vaccination (63.8%), infection control (52%), and long-term effects (47.8%). The following 11 categories were derived from the qualitative analysis representing the topics of interest: vaccination, infection control, long-term effects, therapies, test methods, mental health, symptoms, structures for pandemic control, infrastructure in health care, research. Participants preferred traditional media (TV 70.6%; radio 58.5%; newspaper 32.7%) to social media, but also used the internet as sources of information, becoming aware of new information on websites (28.5%) or via email/newsletter (20.1%). The knowledge question (Which European country is most affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?) was correctly answered by 7.5% of participants. The Robert Koch Institute (93.7%) and the World Health Organization (78%) were well known, while other organisations providing health information were rarely known (< 10%). Barriers to accessing trustworthy information were lack of time (30.7%), little experience (23.1%), uncertainty about how to get access (22.2%), complexity and difficulties in understanding (23.9%), and a lack of target group orientation (15,3%). Conclusions: There are extensive information needs regarding various aspects on COVID-19 among the general population. In addition, target-specific dissemination strategies are still needed to reach different groups.

FachzeitschriftBMC Public Health
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Dez. 2023
Extern publiziertJa


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