Sallam M, Dababseh D, Yaseen A, Al-Haidar A, Taim D, Eid H, Ababneh NA, Bakri FG, Mahafzah A
PLoS One 15 (12) e0243264 [2020-12-03; online 2020-12-03]
Since the emergence of the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its spread as a pandemic, media was teeming with misinformation that led to psychologic, social and economic consequences among the global public. Probing knowledge and anxiety regarding this novel infectious disease is necessary to identify gaps in knowledge and sources of misinformation which can help public health efforts to design and implement more focused interventional measures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the knowledge, attitude and effects of misinformation about COVID-19 on anxiety level among the general public residing in Jordan. This cross-sectional study was conducted using an online-based questionnaire that took place in April 2020, which targeted people residing in Jordan, aged 18 and above. The questionnaire included items on the following: demographic characteristics of the participants, knowledge about COVID-19, anxiety level and misconceptions regarding the origin of the pandemic. The total number of participants included in final analysis was 3150. The study population was predominantly females (76.0%), with mean age of 31 years. The overall knowledge of COVID-19 was satisfactory. Older age, males, lower monthly income and educational levels, smoking and history of chronic disease were associated with perceiving COVID-19 as a very dangerous disease. Variables that were associated with a higher anxiety level during the pandemic included: lower monthly income and educational level, residence outside the capital (Amman) and history of smoking. Misinformation about the origin of the pandemic (being part of a conspiracy, biologic warfare and the 5G networks role) was also associated with higher anxiety levels. Social media platforms, TV and news releases were the most common sources of information about the pandemic. The study showed the potential harmful effects of misinformation on the general public and emphasized the need to meticulously deliver timely and accurate information about the pandemic to lessen the health, social and psychological impact of the disease.