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Public information needs during the COVID-19 outbreak: a qualitative study in mainland China

Yuan Yi (Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Dickson K.W. Chiu (Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 6 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

The impact of COVID-19 has led to a surge in the public’s reliance on the Internet for pandemic information, and the policy of home isolation has exacerbated this. This study aimed to investigate public information needs and ways of accessing and disseminating information during COVID-19 in mainland China.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a qualitative research approach to conduct semi-structured interviews with 15 participants from 9 cities in mainland China about information needs and access behaviors during the COVID-19 outbreak. All interview recordings were converted into text and proofread, then coded and summarised in correspondence with the research questions using the grounded theory.

Findings

This study summarized the dynamics of public information needs during the 2.5-year pandemic and identified the difficulties in accessing certain information.

Originality/value

Although information needs of public health emergencies have been a hot topic during COVID-19, scant studies focus on information needs in specific countries in Asia, especially in mainland China, the first country with a major outbreak and stringent lockdown mandates. Therefore, the current study is well enriched by focusing on information demand behavior in the context of COVID-19. Possible measures for improvement were also given to existing and potential problems, taking into account the participants’ views.

Keywords

Citation

Yi, Y. and Chiu, D.K.W. (2023), "Public information needs during the COVID-19 outbreak: a qualitative study in mainland China", Library Hi Tech, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-08-2022-0398

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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