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Coronavirus news overload increases prejudice, fear and anxiety: study

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
The more news you watch about the coronavirus, the more likely you are to develop prejudice, fear and anxiety about getting infected, a study showed Thursday.

According to a survey of 1,500 adults by a research team led by psychiatry professor Kim Sung-wan at Chonnam National University Medical School, there was a noticeable decrease in prejudice, fear and anxiety among those who have more knowledge of COVID-19.

But consuming news on COVID-19 via mass media did not help people gain knowledge of the infectious disease, which the team said signals that the lack of factual information on news media exacerbates prejudice, fear and anxiety among news consumers.

The team conducted the survey with 1,500 people from across the country between late April and early May to analyze how much Koreans acquire information about the virus from the media and how much accurately they know about the virus. The team also assessed the respondents’ level of anxiety.

“The more knowledge people have about the infectious disease the less afraid they were, but the media did not contribute to increasing the level of knowledge among people. Rather, the more people were exposed to news about the coronavirus, the bigger their fear, prejudice and anxiety got,” Kim said in his dissertation, which was published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science on Monday.

Despite the need to deliver information about the scale of coronavirus outbreaks, there needs to be cooperation between journalists and medical personnel not to fan excessive fear and anxiety about the coronavirus, he added.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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