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The Effect of Fear of COVID-19 on Health Information Searching Behavior During the Pandemic
  • Mesut Teleş
Mesut Teleş
Niğde Ömer Halisdemir University

Corresponding Author:mesutteles@ohu.edu.tr

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Fear can cause people to panic, make wrong decisions, and behave inappropriately. This study aims to investigate the effects of fear of COVID-19 on the perception of the reliability and the use of health information sources. The participants in this study were 323 students attending a state university in Turkey. The Fear of COVID-19 Scale (FCV-19S) and the Health Information Sources Survey were used as data collection tools. The Pearson correlation coefficient was used to determine the relationships between the perception of the reliability of health information sources and their use. Simple linear regression analyses were used to determine the effect of fear on the perception of the reliability of health information sources and their use. The participants’ mean FCV-19S score was 2.30±0.93 on a five-point Likert scale. As a result of the evaluations made, in the range of 0–10, the information source with the highest reliability perception mean score was the doctor (7.10±2.74), whereas that with the highest usage was the Internet (7.98±2.77). Although the fear of COVID-19 had a negative effect on Internet use ( b =-0.38; p<0.05), the effects on the use of other health information sources was positive ( b=0.37-0.83; p<0.05). Trust in radio ( b=0.60; p<0.05) and newspapers/magazines ( b=0.49; p<0.05) also increased with fear. These results showed that as university students’ fear of COVID-19 increased, the use of the Internet for health information decreased; however, use of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health workers, scientific articles, television, radio, and newspapers/journals increased. The findings can guide health policies to be followed. Talks of health professionals and their videos with both educational and scientific content should be given more space on the Internet, social media, traditional media, and other mass media.