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COVID-19 information has played a vital role in anxiety and fear emerging during the pandemic.
This study explores the relation between COVID-19 awareness, anxiety, fear, precaution taking behaviour and recreational practices, identifying the role of healthcare communication in it.
This online survey based cross sectional study was conducted with the general Indian population excluding COVID-19 patients. A validated Google form assessing Generalised anxiety (GAD-7), COVID-19 awareness, fear & phobia, precaution taking behaviour and recreational practices was administered through snowball sampling.
Among n = 834 participants, internet (90.89%) and social media (75.78%) were the dominant sources. 45.56% had anxiety (25.54% mild, 12.95% moderate, 7.07% severe) and 8.52% had phobia. Awareness among anxious and phobic participants was significantly more (Z = 7.156, 26.87 > 1.96, p < 0.05), while the precaution taking behaviour was significantly less among anxious (Z = 2.41 > 1.96, p < 0.05) and more among phobic participants (Z = 31.31 > 1.96, p <0.05). Number of sources, frequency, contact with confirmed cases, COVID-19 symptoms, employment and recreational practices correlated with awareness, anxiety, fear, and precautions to varying degrees.
Preferred information sources among Indians like other countries indicated that availability rather than reliability dictate usage of a source. Anxiety and phobia directly correlated with awareness while less anxiety and more phobia were associated with less precaution taking behaviour. Recreational practices (exercise, yoga & meditation) reduced anxiety and fear. Availability and accuracy of online healthcare information need to be regulated to overcome its effect on mental health.
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