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Jisu Yang 1 Article
The effects of information-seeking behaviours on prevention behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic: the mediating effects of anxiety and fear in Korea
Kwanghyun Kim, Jisu Yang, Ye Jin Jeon, Yu Jin Lee, Youngrong Lee, Hyeon Chang Kim, Karestan Koenen, Yong-Chan Kim, Sun Jae Jung
Epidemiol Health. 2021;43:e2021085.   Published online October 19, 2021
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  • 5 Web of Science
  • 6 Crossref
AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDFSupplementary Material
Identifying determinants of prevention behaviours during the emergence of a new infectious disease is important. We investigated the associations between information-seeking and prevention behaviours during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and mediating effects of psychiatric factors.
In total, 1,970 participants from the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Etiology Research Center cohort participated in an online survey 55 days after the first COVID-19 case in Korea was diagnosed. Time spent seeking information related to COVID-19; information sources; psychiatric factors, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), and the fear of COVID-19; and prevention behaviours were examined. The mediating effect of psychiatric factors was estimated using mediation analysis.
Time spent seeking information and information sources affected several behavioural responses. In men, anxiety mediated associations between information-seeking and prevention behaviours, including purchasing sanitary supplies (effect size [ES], 0.038; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.002 to 0.095) and hoarding (ES, 0.029; 95% CI, 0.002 to 0.068). The fear of COVID-19 also mediated associations between information-seeking and prevention behaviours including refraining from going out (men: ES, 0.034; 95% CI, 0.009 to 0.068; women: ES, 0.052; 95% CI, 0.030 to 0.080), wearing face masks (men: ES, 0.085; 95% CI, 0.031 to 0.184), avoiding public transportation (men: ES, 0.020; 95% CI, 0.000 to 0.044; women: ES, 0.031; 95% CI, 0.015 to 0.051), hoarding (women: ES, 0.051; 95% CI, 0.029 to 0.792), and trying alternative remedies (men: ES, 0.024; 95% CI, 0.004 to 0.053). Depressive symptoms and PTSS did not have any mediating effects.
While the availability of information related to COVID-19 can help prevent infections, it can also promote anxiety and fear, leading to negative behaviours such as hoarding and trying unverified alternative treatments.
Korean summary
-본 연구는 한국인에서 코로나-19 관련 정보탐색이 예방 행동과 상관관계가 있는지를 확인하고 불안, 공포, 우울을 비롯한 심리 상태가 이 상관관계를 매개하는 메커니즘으로 작용하는지를 확인하고자 하였다. - 본 코호트 연구에서 정보 탐색 시간이 길어질수록 예방 행동을 취하는 빈도가 증가하였으며 불안 및 코로나-19에 대한 공포가 이 둘 사이의 상관관계를 일부 매개하였다. - 정보탐색이 증가할수록 외출 자제, 마스크 착용, 대중교통 이용 자제와 같은 권장되는 예방 행동을 취할 가능성도 증가하였지만 사재기를 하거나 검증되지 않은 대체요법에 의지하는 등 권장되지 않는 예방 행동을 취할 가능성 또한 같이 증가하였다.
Key Message
In this study, we tried to test the association between information-seeking behavior and preventive measures during COVID-19 pandemic. We also tried to understand whether psychologic factors such as anxiety, fear against COVID-19 and depression mediate the association. We found that time used for searching COVID-19-related information is positively associated with preventive behaviors, and that anxiety and fear mediate the association. Information seeking increased the probability of utilizing recommended prevention strategy such as wearing facial masks and refraining from going out, but also promoted prevention behavior not recommended by government officials such as hoarding and trying alternative remedies.


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  • Fear of COVID-19 and Prevention Behaviors: Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis
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