The News You Watch Might Matter

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY October 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Masks or no masks? Social distancing or not?

New research suggests that the US media consumes questions when these decisions are made. The study found that people drawn to conservative-leaning TV news were much less likely to follow COVID prevention guidelines.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 4,800 American adults who took part in a nationwide online survey between April 1 and June 9.

Participants were asked about their preventive behaviors against COVID-19 over the past week, including hand washing and the use of face masks. They were also asked about risky behaviors, such as going to bars or clubs, attending gatherings of more than 10 people, and visiting other people’s homes.

In addition, they were asked how much they trusted 18 professional media sources for COVID-19 news, including CNN and Fox News, the two largest news outlets in the United States.

On average, respondents had used three professional sources and about six others (including social media, friends, family, colleagues and the White House) to learn more about the coronavirus in the previous week.

About 29% said they trusted CNN more than Fox News; 20% said they trusted Fox News more than CNN. More than half (52%) said they had no preferences.

People who trusted CNN were more likely to take preventative measures and less likely to report risky behavior than those who trusted Fox News, according to results recently published in the online newspaper. BMJ Global Health.

On average, CNN fans practiced an average of 3.85 preventive behaviors and 0.94 risky behaviors, compared to 3.41 and 1.25, respectively, for those who preferred Fox News.

Overall, seniors, women, people of non-Hispanic Asian origin, and those with more education were more likely to follow preventive guidelines. Those who had a job but could not work from home were the least likely to do so. The study only observed associations and did not determine cause and effect.

“This study has many policy implications for the future progression of COVID-19 and health messages in general. In a highly partisan environment, false information can be easily disseminated,” said the authors led by Erfei Zhao, of the ‘University of Southern California, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

Compared to CNN, Fox News “has consistently downplayed the virus’s danger to political interest,” the researchers said in a press release.

“Health messages, while one of the few effective ways to slow the spread of the virus in the absence of a vaccine, are doomed to failure if the media prioritizes political interests in health. of the population, ”they concluded.

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