Excessive Media Consumption About COVID-19 is Associated With Increased State Anxiety : Outcomes of a Large Online Survey in Russia
Nekliudov, Nikita A.
Cheung, Ka Yan
Warner, John O.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has potentially had a negative impact on the mental health and well-being of individuals and families. Anxiety levels and risk factors within particular populations are poorly described. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate confidence, understanding, trust, concerns, and levels of anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic in the general population and assess risk factors for increased anxiety. METHODS: We launched a cross-sectional online survey of a large Russian population between April 6 and 15, 2020, using multiple social media platforms. A set of questions targeted confidence, understanding, trust, and concerns in respondents. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to measure anxiety. Multiple linear regressions were used to model predictors of COVID-19-related anxiety. RESULTS: The survey was completed by 23,756 out of 53,966 (44.0% response rate) unique visitors; of which, 21,364 were residing in 62 areas of Russia. State Anxiety Scale (S-Anxiety) scores were higher than Trait Anxiety Scale scores across all regions of Russia (median S-Anxiety score 52, IQR 44-60), exceeding published norms. Time spent following news on COVID-19 was strongly associated with an increased S-Anxiety adjusted for baseline anxiety level. One to two hours spent reading COVID-19 news was associated with a 5.46 (95% CI 5.03-5.90) point difference, 2-3 hours with a 7.06 (95% CI 6.37-7.74) point difference, and more than three hours with an 8.65 (95% CI 7.82-9.47) point difference, all compared to less than 30 minutes per day. Job loss during the pandemic was another important factor associated with higher S-Anxiety scores (3.95, 95% CI 3.31-4.58). Despite survey respondents reporting high confidence in information regarding COVID-19 as well as an understanding of health care guidance, they reported low overall trust in state and local authorities, and perception of country readiness. CONCLUSIONS: Among Russian respondents from multiple social media platforms, there was evidence of higher levels of state anxiety associated with recent job loss and increased news consumption, as well as lower than expected trust in government agencies. These findings can help inform the development of key public health messages to help reduce anxiety and raise perceived trust in governmental response to this current national emergency. Using a similar methodology, comparative surveys are ongoing in other national populations.