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Public awareness, emotional reactions and human mobility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China- A population-based ecological study

Public awareness, emotional reactions and human mobility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China- A population-based ecological study


Title: Public awareness, emotional reactions and human mobility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China- A population-based ecological study
Author: Li, Yuchen
Zeng, Yu
Liu, Guangdi
Lu, Donghao
Yang, Huazhen
Ying, Zhiye
Hu, Yao
Qiu, Jianqing
Zhang, Chao
Fall, Katja   orcid.org/0000-0002-3649-2639
... 4 more authors Show all authors
Date: 2020
Language: English
Scope:
Department: Faculty of Medicine
Series: Psychological Medicine; ()
ISSN: 0033-2917
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S003329172000375X
Subject: Awareness; China; COVID-19; Emotional reaction; Human mobility; Applied Psychology; Psychiatry and Mental Health
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/3362

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Citation:

Li , Y , Zeng , Y , Liu , G , Lu , D , Yang , H , Ying , Z , Hu , Y , Qiu , J , Zhang , C , Fall , K , Fang , F , Valdimarsdóttir , U A , Zhang , W & Song , H 2020 , ' Public awareness, emotional reactions and human mobility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China- A population-based ecological study ' , Psychological Medicine . https://doi.org/10.1017/S003329172000375X

Abstract:

Background: The outbreak of COVID-19 generated severe emotional reactions, and restricted mobility was a crucial measure to reduce the spread of the virus. This study describes the changes in public emotional reactions and mobility patterns in the Chinese population during the COVID-19 outbreak. Methods: We collected data on public emotional reactions in response to the outbreak through Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, between January 1st and March 31st, 2020. Using anonymized location-tracking information, we analyzed the daily mobility patterns of approximately 90% of Sichuan residents. Results: There were three distinct phases of the emotional and behavioral reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak. The alarm phase (January 19th�26th) was a restriction-free period, characterized by few new daily cases, but enormous public negative emotions (the number of negative comments per Weibo post increased by 246.9 per day, 95%CI: 122.5�371.3), and a substantial increase in self-limiting mobility (from 45.6% to 54.5%, changing by 1.5% per day, 95%CI: 0.7%�2.3%). The epidemic phase (January 27th�February 15th) exhibited rapidly increasing numbers of new daily cases, decreasing expression of negative emotions (a decrease of 27.3 negative comments per post per day, 95%CI:-40.4�-14.2), and a stabilized level of self-limiting mobility. The relief phase (February 16th�March 31st) had a steady decline in new daily cases and decreasing levels of negative emotion and self-limiting mobility. Conclusions: During the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the public�s emotional reaction was strongest before the actual peak of the outbreak and declined thereafter. The change in human mobility patterns occurred before the implementation of restriction orders, suggesting a possible link between emotion and behavior.

Description:

This work is supported by the West China Hospital COVID-19 Epidemic Science and Technology Project (No. HX-2019-nCoV-014 to Dr Song, No. HX-2019-nCoV-019 to Dr Zhang), Sichuan University Emergency Grant (No. 2020scunCoVyingji1002 to Dr Song, No. 2020scunCoVyingji1005 to Dr Zhang), and Emergency Grant form Science & Technology Department of Sichuan Providence (No. 2020YFS0007 to Dr Zhang). Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.

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