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Comparison of reported main COVID-19 information sources in national and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia

By Julie Ayre, Danielle M Muscat, Olivia A Mac, Carys Batcup, Erin Cvejic, Kristen Pickles, Hankiz Dolan, Carissa Bonner, Dana Mouwad, Dipti Zachariah, Una Turalic, Yvonne Santalucia, Tingting Chen, Gordana Vasic, Kirsten J McCaffery

Posted 01 Aug 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.29.21261321

Background: To manage the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, governments need clear and effective communication. This is a challenge for culturally diverse communities as groups may have different informational needs and information-seeking behaviours. In this paper we present the frequency of information sources for COVID-19 in a culturally diverse area of Sydney, Australia. Methods: This study reports findings from two surveys. The first recruited participants across 10 languages between March 21 and July 9, 2021. The second provides a point of reference, and was an Australian, nationally-representative sample of English-speaking participants between November 4 and 18, 2020. Results: For the survey in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, of 708 participants, mean age was 45.4 years (SE 0.78), and 51% of respondents were female. Across all language groups, 54.7% of participants used Australian official or public broadcasters to find out about COVID-19 (n=421). Australian commercial information sources (54.1%, n=417), social media (51.6%, n=397), and family and friends in Australia (32.7%, n=252) were common sources. Patterns varied substantially across language groups. In the nationally representative survey (n=2313), 67% of participants (n=1540) used Australian official or public broadcasters, with lower proportions for social media (31.9%, n=738) and friends, family or other personal sources (23.1%; n=533). Conclusion: Almost 50% of participants from culturally and linguistically diverse communities did not report using Australian official or public broadcaster as main sources of information. Instead Australian commercial information sources, friends and family, overseas sources and social media were common. Though a crude comparison of the two datasets, this data can guide policy decisions for communication to different community groups. Further analysis is needed to interpret this data. Better understanding of how diverse communities seek and receive COVID-19 health information is imperative as we manage the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Sydney region.

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