The Impact of the COVID-19 “Infodemic” on Well-Being: A Cross-Sectional Study

Iffat Elbarazi, Basema Saddik, Michal Grivna, Faisal Aziz, Deena Elsori, Emmanuel Stip, Enes Bendak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis in the world of information and digital literacy. The amount of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 that has circulated through social media (SM) since January 2020 is notably significant and has been linked to rising levels of anxiety and fear amongst SM users. Aim: This study aimed to assess SM practices during COVID-19 and investigated their impact on users’ well-being. Methods: An online survey was distributed between June 10 and July 31 2020 via different SM platforms in the United Arab Emirates and other Arabic-speaking countries. Adults above 18 years of age who spoke Arabic or English were invited to complete the survey which covered multiple domains, use and practices related to social media platforms and mental health questions, including the WHO-5 Well-Being Index. Results: Out of 993 participants, 73% were females, 76% were non-Emirati, 91% were university graduates, and 50% were employed in various occupations, of which 20% were health care professionals. Participants indicated that they acquired COVID-19 related information primarily from social media and messaging applications of which WhatsApp was the most used. Most participants reported sharing information after verification. The mean well-being score was 12.6 ±5.6, with 49% of participants reporting poor well-being (WHO-5 score <12.5). Adjusted linear regression showed that Facebook usage was negatively associated with well-being scores. Additionally, high time use was associated with poorer well-being. When adjusting for other factors, including low confidence in information around COVID-19 and poor knowledge overall, SM usage was significantly associated with poorer well-being. Conclusion: The study sheds light on the use of SM during the pandemic and its impact on well-being throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic. Social media practices during emergencies and disasters may impact public well-being. Authorities are advised to step in to minimize the spread of misinformation and more frequent use of social media as it may influence well-being. Public health specialists, information technology and communication experts should collaborate to limit the infodemic effect on communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-307
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Infodemic
  • Internet use
  • Mental health
  • Social media
  • WHO-5 Well-Being Index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing

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