Sources of information on COVID-19 among the youths and its implications on mental health. A cross-sectional study in Nairobi, Kenya
Introduction: The world is currently undergoing a double epidemic with the COVID-19 pandemic and an information epidemic (infodemic) of misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation and disinformation are a hindrance to health communication and have severe public health consequences including fear, stigma, and the resultant stress and mental morbidity.
Objectives: This study sought to determine the sources of information on COVID19 among the youth and the effect of this information on their mental health.
Study Design: A cross-section descriptive study design. Data was collected using an online questionnaire.
Participants: Two hundred and seventy-two (272) youth were surveyed. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 was used to analyze the data.
Results: Seventy-six (76.1%) of the youth received information on COVID-19 from the nationally televised press briefings by the Ministry of Health (MoH), while 56% of the youth received information from social media platforms such as Facebook (23.9%) and Twitter (32.4%). The televised press briefings by the Ministry of Health COVID 19 taskforce were regarded as the most credible sources of information on COVID-19 by 78.7% of the youth. Facebook was reported as the biggest source of fake, unverified, and misleading information on COVID-19 by 72.4% of the youth. The findings also established that misinformation on COVID-19 resulted in adverse effects on the mood and mental health of the participants; 35.7% felt confused by the misinformation while 23.9% and 22% reported anxiety and fear, respectively.
Conclusion: These findings will inform national strategies to address misinformation and disinformation propagated through social media.