Title : Coping with public anxiety aroused by Infodemics: Reflections and recommendations
When an unknown and novel type of coronavirus emerged in early 2020, the unprecedented outbreak of the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed severe threats to the physical as well as mental health of the general public all around the globe. Health scientists had been working closely with officials from public health authorities in a prompt attempt to curb this new and highly transmissible virus from spreading in the communities. At the same time, unfortunately, viral spread of an avalanche of fake news and misinformation pertaining to COVID-19 was also present in numerous online forums and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, resulting in widespread and heightened public anxiety. In response to this alarming issue, the World Health Organization has coined the term “infodemic” to reflect the severity of these emergent societal issues and to raise public awareness of their possible psychological impact. In the present keynote presentation, I will first review global evidence regarding the multiple challenges brought about by the COVID-19 infodemic. Adopting the conceptual framework of psychological entropy, I will elaborate the potential aetiology of the infodemic and provide feasible solutions as an attempt to minimize its potential impact on the mental health of the general public. Specific focuses will highlight the role of perceived threat in public information processing while coping with the stress and public fear aroused by the infodemic. At the end of the presentation, I will discuss some feasible strategies for mitigating the adverse effects of the infodemic at three levels: public, community, and individual.
Audience Take Away Notes:
- Both scholars and lay audience will understand the adverse impact brought about by infodemic
- Both scholars and lay audience will gain possible solutions to deal with stress and anxiety associated with the infodemic
The strategies will assist public health professionals in designing intervention programs to combat public fear aroused by infodemic