Trust in COVID-19 info sources varies by demographics, beliefs

Oct. 15, 2020

A recent study in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance showed people seek COVID-19 information from different sources based on sex, age, education level, political bent, and beliefs about the pandemic, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

Led by researchers at New York University (NYU), the study involved recruiting US adults on Facebook to complete an online survey in two rounds in March and April on their use of 11 different coronavirus information sources and their most trusted source of information.

The vast majority of the 11,242 participants who completed the survey (91.2 percent) said they turned to traditional news sources such as television, radio, podcasts, and newspapers. But the largest single source of COVID-19 information was government websites (87.6 percent), which were also the most trusted source (43.3 percent). Another large source was social media (73.6 percent), although participants said they trusted government information far more.

Men and those aged 40 and older reported lower levels of trust in government websites than younger participants. Those surveyed in April, as opposed to March, were significantly less likely to use and trust government websites, while trust in other websites, radio news or podcasts, and spouses or other partners more than doubled during that time. April participants also used, on average, 0.58 fewer sources than March respondents.

Non-white participants were more likely than whites to consult doctors and religious leaders for sources of information.

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