Obtaining information from different sources matters during the COVID-19 pandemic

Li Chu, Helene H. Fung, Dwight C. K. Tse, Vivian H. L. Tsang, Hanyu Zhang, Chunyan Mai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Older adults might be less information-seeking in comparison to younger adults. Yet, when a crisis hits, rather than relying on only a few information sources, it is important for people to gather information from a variety of different sources. With more information sources, people are more likely to obtain a more realistic perception of the situation and engagement of health behaviors. This study examined the association between age and information-seeking patterns, and how information-seeking patterns influenced worry about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and protective measures taken during the pandemic. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: This study was conducted from March to May 2020. Ninety younger adults and 105 older adults were recruited in a 21-day daily diary study. Participants reported the types of sources where they received COVID-19-related information, worry from these information sources and protective health behaviors performed each day. Multilevel serial mediation analysis was performed. RESULTS: Concurrent and time-lagged analyses both revealed that older adults received information from more sources, and more frequently from traditional (e.g., newspaper and TV) and interpersonal sources (e.g., information shared by friends and families), than did younger adults. When receiving information from more sources, older adults were more worried about COVID-19 and performed more protective health behaviors. DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: These results demonstrated the utility of having more information sources in the context of a public health crisis and offered suggestions for future public communication and community engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021


  • aging
  • health behavior
  • information-seeking
  • protective measures
  • worry

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