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Epidemiology and Health 2021;e2021085.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2021085    [Accepted] Published online Oct 19, 2021.
The effect of information-seeking behaviours on prevention behaviour implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic: mediating effects of anxiety and fear
Kwanghyun Kim1  , Jisu Yang2  , Ye Jin Jeon2  , Yu Jin Lee2  , Youngrong Lee1  , Hyeon Chang Kim1  , Karestan Koenen3  , Yong-Chan Kim4  , Sun Jae Jung1,3 
1Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea, Seoul, Korea
2Department of Public Health, Yonsei University Graduate School, Seoul, Korea, Seoul, Korea
3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, United States
4College of Communication, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence  Sun Jae Jung ,Tel: 0222281580, Email: sunjaejung@yuhs.ac
Received: Jul 16, 2021  Accepted after revision: Oct 19, 2021
It is important to understand determinants of prevention behaviours during the emergence of an infectious disease and pandemic. We aimed to investigate the association between information-seeking and prevention behaviours, and the mediating effects of psychiatric factors during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
A total of 1970 participants from the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Etiology Research Center cohort participated in an online survey 55 days after the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in South Korea. Time spent seeking COVID-19-related information; information sources; psychiatric factors including anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and fear of COVID-19; and prevention behaviours were queried. The mediating effect of psychiatric factors was estimated by mediation analyses.
Information-seeking time and information source affected several behavioural responses. In men, anxiety mediated associations between information-seeking and prevention behaviours including purchasing sanitary supplies (effect size 0.038, 95% confidence interval 0.002–0.095) and hoarding (0.029, 0.002–0.068). Indirect effects of fear of COVID-19 were associated with refraining from going out (men: 0.034, 0.009–0.068; women: 0.052, 0.030–0.080), wearing face masks (men: 0.085, 0.031–0.184), avoiding public transport (men: 0.020, 0.000–0.044; women: 0.031, 0.015–0.051), hoarding (women: 0.051, 0.029–0.792), and trying alternative remedies (men: 0.024, 0.004–0.053).
While COVID-19-related information can help infection prevention, it can also promote anxiety and fear and lead to behaviours not recommended during the pandemic, such as hoarding and trying unvalidated alternative treatments.
Keywords: COVID-19; Information Seeking Behavior; Health Behaviour; Fear; Anxiety
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