Infodemic Preparedness and COVID-19: Searching about Public Health and Social Measures Is Associated with Digital Health Literacy in University Students

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  • Rafaela Rosário
  • Inês Fronteira
  • Maria R.O. Martins
  • Cláudia Augusto
  • Maria José Silva
  • Melanie Messer
  • Silvana Martins
  • Ana Duarte
  • Neida Ramos
  • Katharina Rathmann
  • Orkan Okan
  • Kevin Dadaczynski

We aimed to evaluate the associations between information searching about public health and social measures (PHSM) and university students’ digital health literacy (DHL) related to the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19. Methods: This cross-sectional study included 3,084 Portuguese university students (75.7% females), with an average age of 24.2 (SD = 7.5). Sociodemographic data, DHL questionnaire and online information concerning PHSM were gathered. Cox proportional hazards models were performed. Results: Students who searched for personal protective measures achieved in shorter time sufficient “evaluating reliability” (HR = 1.4; 95% CI = 1.1; 1.7) and “determining relevance” (HR = 1.5; 95% CI = 1.2; 1.8). Searching for surveillance and response measures was associated with sufficient “determining relevance” (HR = 1.4; 95% CI = 1.1; 1.9). Finally, those students who searched for environmental, economic and psychosocial measures achieved in shorter time “determining relevance” (HR = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.0; 1.4). Conclusions: Searching for PHSM was significantly associated with an increased likelihood of achieving sufficient DHL subscales in a shorter time. Further studies are needed, including developing strategies to increase the availability of high-quality information concerning public health and social measures and to improve (digital) health literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12320
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, digital health literacy, infodemic, public health and social measures
  • Health sciences