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Thadoi Potsangbam 1 Article
An Observational Study in Manipur State, India on Preventive Behavior Influenced by Social Media During the COVID-19 Pandemic Mediated by Cyberchondria and Information Overload
Renu Bala, Amit Srivastava, Gouri Devi Ningthoujam, Thadoi Potsangbam, Amita Oinam, Ch Lily Anal
J Prev Med Public Health. 2021;54(1):22-30.   Published online December 1, 2020
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AbstractAbstract PDFSupplementary Material
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a public health emergency posing unprecedented challenges for health authorities. Social media may serve as an effective platform to disseminate health-related information. This study aimed to assess the extent of social media use, its impact on preventive behavior, and negative health effects such as cyberchondria and information overload.
A cross-sectional observational study was conducted between June 10, 2020 and August 9, 2020 among people visiting the outpatient department of the authors’ institution, and participants were also recruited during field visits for an awareness drive. Questions were developed on preventive behavior, and the Short Cyberchondria Scale and instruments dealing with information overload and perceived vulnerability were used.
The study recruited 767 participants with a mean age of about 45 years. Most of the participants (>90%) engaged in preventive behaviors, which were influenced by the extent of information received through social media platforms (β=3.297; p<0.001) and awareness of infection when a family member tested positive (β=29.082; p<0.001) or a neighbor tested positive (β=27.964; p<0.001). The majority (63.0%) of individuals often searched for COVID-19 related news on social media platforms. The mean±standard deviation scores for cyberchondria and information overload were 9.09±4.05 and 8.69±2.56, respectively. Significant and moderately strong correlations were found between cyberchondria, information overload, and perceived vulnerability to COVID-19.
This study provides evidence that the use of social media as an information- seeking platform altered preventive behavior. However, excessive and misleading information resulted in cyberchondria and information overload.


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JPMPH : Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health