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Frequent hospital presenters’ use of health information during COVID-19: results of a cross-sectional survey

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posted on 2023-09-11, 00:39 authored by Rebecca JessupRebecca Jessup, Cassandra BramstonCassandra Bramston, P Putrik, C Haywood, M Tacey, Beverley CopnellBeverley Copnell, N Cvetanovska, Yingting CaoYingting Cao, A Gust, D Campbell, Brian OldenburgBrian Oldenburg, H Mehdi, M Kirk, E Zucchi, Adam SemciwAdam Semciw, A Beauchamp
Background: High-frequency hospital users often present with chronic and complex health conditions and are at increased risk of serious morbidity and mortality if they contract COVID-19. Understanding where high-frequency hospital users are sourcing their information, whether they understand what they find, and how they apply the information to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is essential for health authorities to be able to target communication approaches. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 200 frequent hospital users (115 with limited English proficiency) informed by the WHO’s “Rapid, simple, flexible behavioral insights on COVID-19”. Outcome measures were source of, and trust in information, and knowledge of symptoms, preventive strategies, restrictions, and identification of misinformation. Results: The most frequently cited source of information was television (n = 144, 72%) followed by the internet (n = 84, 42%). One in four television users sought their information from overseas news outlets from their country of origin, while for those using the internet, 56% relied on Facebook and other forms of social media including YouTube and WeChat. Overall, 41.2% of those surveyed had inadequate knowledge about symptoms, 35.8% had inadequate knowledge about preventative strategies, 30.2% had inadequate knowledge about government-imposed restrictions, and 69% believed in misinformation. Half of the respondents (50%) trusted all information, and only one in five (20%) were uncertain or untrusting. English-speaking participants were almost three times more likely to have adequate knowledge about symptoms (OR 2.69, 95%CI 1.47;4.91) and imposed restrictions (OR 2.10 95%CI 1.06; 4.19), and 11 times more likely to recognize misinformation (OR 11.52 95%CI 5.39; 24.60) than those with limited English. Conclusion: Within this population of high-frequency hospital users with complex and chronic conditions, many were sourcing their information from less trustworthy or locally relevant sources, including social media and overseas news outlets. Despite this, at least half were trusting all the information that they found. Speaking a language other than English was a much greater risk factor for having inadequate knowledge about COVID-19 and believing in misinformation. Health authorities must look for methods to engage diverse communities, and tailor health messaging and education in order to reduce disparities in health outcomes.


This study was supported by the Northern Health Research Foundation grant number 24–2020; the Inner North West, Health West and Hume Whittlesea Primary Care Partnerships (not a competitive grant); and La Trobe University Northern Academic and Research Collaborative in Health (not a competitive grant).


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BMC Health Services Research



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Springer Nature



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