Media exposure, threat processing, and mitigation behaviors in Gulf Coast residents facing the co-occurring threats of COVID-19 and hurricanes
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Media exposure, threat processing, and mitigation behaviors in Gulf Coast residents facing the co-occurring threats of COVID-19 and hurricanes

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  • Journal Title:
    Risk Analysis
  • Personal Author:
  • Description:
    The 2020 hurricane season threatened millions of Americans concurrently grappling with COVID-19. Processes guiding individual-level mitigation for these conceptually distinct threats, one novel and chronic (COVID-19), the other familiar and episodic (hurricanes), are unknown. Theories of health protective behaviors suggest that inputs from external stimuli (e.g., traditional and social media) lead to threat processing, including perceived efficacy (self- and response) and perceived threat (susceptibility and severity), guiding mitigation behavior. We surveyed a representative sample of Florida and Texas residents (N = 1846) between April 14, 2020 and April 27, 2020; many had previous hurricane exposure; all were previously assessed between September 8, 2017 and September 11, 2017. Using preregistered analyses, two generalized structural equation models tested direct and indirect effects of media exposure (traditional media, social media) on self-reported (1) COVID-19 mitigation (handwashing, mask-wearing, social distancing) and (2) hurricane mitigation (preparation behaviors), as mediated through perceived efficacy (self- and response) and perceived threat (susceptibility and severity). Self-efficacy and response efficacy were associated with social distancing (p = .002), handwashing, mask-wearing, and hurricane preparation (ps < 0.001). Perceived susceptibility was positively associated with social distancing (p = 0.017) and hurricane preparation (p < 0.001). Perceived severity was positively associated with social distancing (p < 0.001). Traditional media exhibited indirect effects on COVID-19 mitigation through increased response efficacy (ps < 0.05), and to a lesser extent self-efficacy (p < 0.05), and on hurricane preparation through increased self-efficacy and response efficacy and perceived susceptibility (ps < 0.05). Social media did not exhibit indirect effects on COVID-19 or hurricane mitigation. Communications targeting efficacy and susceptibility may encourage mitigation behavior; research should explore how social media campaigns can more effectively target threat processing, guiding protective actions.
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  • Source:
    Risk Analysis, 2023;43:1370–1386
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  • Rights Information:
    Accepted Manuscript
  • Compliance:
    Submitted
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