Media use and trust during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from eight cross-sectional surveys in Sweden.

Winters M, Biermann O, Bohlin G, Bergman M, Brounéus F, Zeebari Z, Nordenstedt H

Eur J Public Health 32 (6) 976-981 [2022-11-29; online 2022-10-13]

While a lot has been written about Sweden's COVID-19 control strategy, less is known about Swedish residents' media use during the pandemic and trust in and perceived agreement among key stakeholders commenting in the media. Eight online, nationwide surveys were fielded between March and August 2020, during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Sweden, with 8146 responses. Questions were asked on media usage, perceived tone of media, trust in key pandemic stakeholder groups commenting in the media (politicians, journalists, government officials, doctors/healthcare professionals and researchers) and perceived agreement among these key stakeholders about how the pandemic was handled in Sweden. Using five or more information sources was associated with increased perceived alarmism in the media. Women and those with tertiary education were more likely to trust key pandemic actors. Trust in doctors/healthcare professionals and researchers remained high over the course of the study, trust in politicians and journalists was relatively low throughout the study period, with a slight increase in April 2020. Trust in key stakeholders was strongly associated with perceived agreement among the key stakeholders. Our results show that trust in stakeholders was strongly associated with perceived consistency of messages from those stakeholders. The inverse also holds: perceived conflicting messages among stakeholders was associated with low trust in them. Taken together, this could point to the importance of building trust before a crisis. Trust-building efforts could be targeted to men and those with lower educational attainment, as they had lower trust in key stakeholders.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 36223605

DOI 10.1093/eurpub/ckac145

Crossref 10.1093/eurpub/ckac145

pmc: PMC9619753
pii: 6759691

Publications 9.5.0