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Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland: health protective behavior in the context of communication and perceptions of efficacy, norms, and threat


Friemel, Thomas N; Geber, Sarah (2023). Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland: health protective behavior in the context of communication and perceptions of efficacy, norms, and threat. Health Communication, 38(4):779-789.

Abstract

The success of health protection measures depends on public compliance. This paper aims to understand the influence of three different types of communication (i.e., news media, social media, and interpersonal communication) on people’s engagement in health protective behavior during a public health crisis. Our C-ENT model of health protective behavior proposes that communication raises perceptions of efficacy, norms, and threat, which in turn influence health protective behavior (communication → efficacy, norms, threat: C-ENT). We test the model for the case of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a representative online survey during the first week of the lockdown in Switzerland (N = 1005). The results support the C-ENT model and illustrate the important role of communication engagement during a public health crisis. News media use was associated with perceptions of behavior-related efficacy and norms and disease-related threat, and these perceptions were positively associated with compliance with social distancing. Social media use and interpersonal communication were related with perceived norms. Social media use was negatively and interpersonal communication positively associated with health behavior-supporting normative perceptions. Our findings suggest taking the distinct pattern among communication types (i.e., news media, social media, and interpersonal communication), perceptions, and behavior into account in order to understand existing dependencies and design respective communication strategies.

Abstract

The success of health protection measures depends on public compliance. This paper aims to understand the influence of three different types of communication (i.e., news media, social media, and interpersonal communication) on people’s engagement in health protective behavior during a public health crisis. Our C-ENT model of health protective behavior proposes that communication raises perceptions of efficacy, norms, and threat, which in turn influence health protective behavior (communication → efficacy, norms, threat: C-ENT). We test the model for the case of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a representative online survey during the first week of the lockdown in Switzerland (N = 1005). The results support the C-ENT model and illustrate the important role of communication engagement during a public health crisis. News media use was associated with perceptions of behavior-related efficacy and norms and disease-related threat, and these perceptions were positively associated with compliance with social distancing. Social media use and interpersonal communication were related with perceived norms. Social media use was negatively and interpersonal communication positively associated with health behavior-supporting normative perceptions. Our findings suggest taking the distinct pattern among communication types (i.e., news media, social media, and interpersonal communication), perceptions, and behavior into account in order to understand existing dependencies and design respective communication strategies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Language:English
Date:21 March 2023
Deposited On:20 Oct 2021 13:48
Last Modified:25 Apr 2024 01:39
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1041-0236
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2021.1976360