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Sick for Information? Information Needs and Media Use of the Dutch Public During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Poel, F. te, Linn, A.J., Baumgartner, S.E., Dijk, L. van, Smit, E.S. Sick for Information? Information Needs and Media Use of the Dutch Public During the Covid-19 Pandemic. European Journal of Health Communication: 2021, 2(3), p. 24-43
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During a pandemic outbreak, timely and accurate information that matches the information needs of the public is vital to inform the public. In April 2020, 977 individuals completed a questionnaire that measured the Dutch public’s health information needs and media consumption during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

Results show that respondents sought information about prevention of contamination, (the severity of) symptoms, treatment, and vaccination. News outlets, both online and offline, were the most preferred sources for information. Older people were more likely to search for information in traditional media, such as on TV, in newspapers, and on the radio. Younger people more often used news websites to find information. Respondents with lower levels of education obtained information via TV more frequently than respondents with higher levels of education, who in turn used newspapers more frequently.

This study, guided by the Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) model, was conducted during the early stages of the pandemic in the Netherlands to provide information that public health officials and governments can use to optimise information provision during pandemics. Presently, news media have the highest degree of coverage and impact and should thus be used first to convey reliable information.