Health Promot Perspect. 2021;11(3): 288-298.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2021.37
  Abstract View: 109
  PDF Download: 92

Original Article

Systematic evaluation of COVID-19 related Internet health rumors during the breaking out period of COVID-19 in China

Pu Ge 1 ORCID logo, Jin Liu 2 ORCID logo, Xiao Han 3, Shu-ting Wei 4, Xi-zhe He 5, Ying Tang 6, Xin Xu 7, Sheng-yuan Wang 8, Ying Bian 1* ORCID logo, Yibo Wu 9,10* ORCID logo

1 Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences & State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, University of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau 999078, China
2 The Third Clinical Department, China Medical University,Shenyang 110013,Liaoning Province,China
3 School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510006, Guangdong Province, China
4 Cheeloo College of Medicine,ShanDong University,Jinan 250012,Shandong Province,China
5 Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine,Nanchang 330004,Jiangxi Province,China
6 Changzhi Medical College,Changzhi 046000,Shanxi Province,China
7 School of Life Science, Peking University, Beijing 100871,China
8 Liaoning Technical University College of the Media and Arts, Fuxin 123000,China
9 School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing 100191,China
10 Key Research Base of Philosophy and Social Sciences in Shaanxi Province, Health Culture Research Center of Shaanxi, Xi’an 712046,China


Background: To adapt the scientific evaluation tool for the confusion evaluation of health rumors and to test this tool to the confusion evaluation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related health rumors on Chinese online platforms during the outbreak period of COVID-19in China. Methods: The design of our study was systematic evaluation of COVID-19-related health rumors. Retrieved from 7 rumor-repellent platforms, rumors about COVID-19 were collected during the publication from December 1, 2019, to February 6, 2020, and their origins were traced. Researchers evaluated rumors using the confusion evaluation tool in 6 dimensions(creators, evidence selection, evidence evaluation, evidence application, backing and publication platform, conflict of interest). Items were scored using a seven-point Likert scale. The scores were converted into percentages, and the median of rumors from different sources was compared with rank-sum test. Results: Our research included 127 rumors. Scores were converted to percentages, median and interquartile range are used to describe the data. The median score: creators 25.00%(interquartile range, IQR, 16.67-37.50%), evidence selection 27.78% (IQR, 13.89-44.44%),evidence evaluation 33.33% (IQR, 25.00-45.83%), evidence application 36.11% (IQR, 22.22-47.22%), backing and publication platform 8.33% (IQR, 4.17-20.83%), conflict of interest75.00% (IQR, 50.00-83.33%). Almost 40% rumors came from WeChat and the rumors with the lowest scores were concentrated on the WeChat platform. The rumors about prevention methods have relatively lower scores. Conclusion: Most rumors included were not highly confusing for evaluators of this project.WeChat is the “worst-hit area” of COVID-19 related health rumors. More than half rumors focus on the description of prevention methods, which reflects the panic, anxiety and blind conformity of the public under public health emergencies.
Keywords: COVID-19, Health rumor, Systematic evaluation, China, The breaking out period of COVID-19
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Submitted: 23 May 2021
Revision: 17 Jul 2021
Accepted: 18 Jul 2021
ePublished: 18 Aug 2021
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