Health information seeking behaviour among the Kuwaiti population during the COVID-19 pandemic

Main Article Content

Elham A Aldousari
Maha Al-Sejari


This study investigates health information seeking behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic based on a survey of 1,018 residents in Kuwait. An online questionnaire was used to collect the data using convenience sampling method. More than half the respondents reported following news updates on COVID-19 through websites produced by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health (MOH), local TV channels, and social media networks. They were aware of most of the precautions being prescribed to curb the spread of the virus. Official resources that helped improve the participants’ health information seeking behaviour included receiving text messages from government agencies and watching daily press coverage of news conferences held by the MOH. Health information seeking behaviour for COVID-19 varied among the respondents according to socio-demographic characteristics. Male respondents had sought more health-related information than the females. Respondents aged 18 to 29 years and student groups were more likely than others to follow news updates on COVID-19; were more aware of the relevant precautionary practices; and were more likely to improve their health literacy. The findings of this study provide a clear account of public health information-seeking behaviour in Kuwait during the pandemic.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Aldousari, E. A., & Al-Sejari, M. (2021). Health information seeking behaviour among the Kuwaiti population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Malaysian Journal of Library &Amp; Information Science, 26(3), 105–122. Retrieved from


Ahmad, A. R., and Murad, H. R. 2020. The impact of social media on panic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraqi Kurdistan: Online questionnaire study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 22, no. 5: e19556. Available at: doi:10.2196/19556.

Alduraywish, S. A., Altamimi, L. A., Aldhuwayhi, R. A., AlZamil, L. R., Alzeghayer, L. Y., Alsaleh, F. S., Aldakheel, F. M., and Tharkar, S. 2020. Sources of health information and their impacts on medical knowledge perception among the Saudi Arabian population: Cross-sectional study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 22, no. 3: e14414. Available at:

Ali, M. Y., and Bhatti, R. 2020. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic: Information sources channels for the public health awareness. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, Vol. 32, no. 4: 168-169. Available at: doi:10.1177/1010539520927261.

Ali, M. Y., and Gatiti, P. 2020. The COVID‐19 (Coronavirus) pandemic: Reflections on the roles of librarians and information professionals”. Health Information & Libraries Journal, Vol. 37, no. 2: 158–162. Available at:

Ali S.H., Foreman, J., Tozan, Y., Capasso, A., Jones, A,M,, DiClemente, R,J. 2020. Trends and predictors of COVID-19 information sources and their relationship with knowledge and beliefs related to pandemic: A nationwide cross-sectional study. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, Vol. 6, no. 4: e21071.

Al-Kandari. A.J 2019. The role of social media in cultural development and joint gulf cultural work [in Arabic]. Paper presented at The Intellectual Symposium to Reformulate the Cultural Strategy of the Cooperation Council for the Arab State of the Gulf. National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, Kuwait, October 2019.

Ashrafi-rizi, H., and Kazempour, Z., 2020. Information diet in Covid-19 Crisis; A commentary. Archives of Academic Emergency Medicine, Vol. 8, no. 1: e30.

Asibey, B.O. , Agyemang , S. and Dankwah, A.B. 2017. The Internet use for health information seeking among Ghanaian university students: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications, Vol. 2017: 1756473. Available at:

Balami, A. D., and Meleh, H. U. 2019. Misinformation on salt water use among Nigerians during 2014 Ebola outbreak and the role of social media. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, Vol. 12, no. 4: 175.

Boberg, S., Quandt, T., Schatto-Eckrodt, T., and Frischlich, L. 2020. Pandemic populism: Facebook pages of alternative news media and the corona crisis—A computational content analysis (Muenster Online Research Working Paper 1/2020 [Pre-print]). Muenster: University of Muenster. Available at:

Chan, E. H., Sahai, V., Conrad, C., & Brownstein, J. S. 2011. Using web search query data to monitor dengue epidemics: A new model for neglected tropical disease surveillance”. PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease, Vol. 5, no. 5: e1206. Available at: https//:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001206.

Chu, D., Pan, Y., Cheng, S., Hui, K. P. Y., Krishnan, P., Liu, Y., Ng, D.Y.M., Wan, C.K.C., Yang, P., Wang, Q., Peiris, M. and Poon, L. L. M. 2020. Molecular diagnosis of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) causing an outbreak of pneumonia. Clinical Chemistry, Vol. 66, no. 4: 549–555. Available at: doi:10.1093/clinchem/hvaa029.

Dion, M., AbdelMalik, P., and Mawudeku, A. 2015. Big data and the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN)”. Canada Communicable Disease Report [Releve des Maladies Transmissibles au Canada], Vol. 41, no. 9: 209–214.

Dubey, D., Amritphale, A., and Sawhney, A. 2014. Analysis of YouTube as a source of information for West Nile virus infection. Clinical Medicine and Research, Vol. 12: 129–132.

Ebrahim, A. H., Saif, Z. Q., Buheji, M., AlBasri, N., Al-Husaini, F. A., and Jahrami, H. 2020. COVID-19 information-seeking behaviour and anxiety symptoms among parents. OSP Journal of Health Care and Medicine, Vol. 1, no. 1: HCM-1–105. Available at:

Feldmann, H. 2014. Ebola—a growing threat? The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 371, no. 15: 1375–1378. Available at: doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1405314

Ginsberg, J., Mohebbi, M. H., Patel, R. S., Brammer, L., Smolinski, M. S., and Brilliant, L. 2009. Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data. Nature, Vol. 457, no. 7232: 1012–1014.

Gretter, S., and Yadav, A. 2020. What do preservice teachers think about teaching media literacy?: An exploratory study using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Media Literacy Education, Vol. 10, no. 1: 104–123.

He, X., Lau, E. H. Y., Wu, P., Deng, X., Wang, J., Hao, X., ...., and Leung, G. M. 2020. Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19. Nature Medicine, Vol. 26: 672-675. Available at:

Huang, C., Wang, Y., Li, X., Ren, L., Zhao, J., Hu, Y., ...., and Cao, B. 2020. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Lancet, Vol. 395, no. 10223: 497–506. Available at:

Karros, D. J. 1997. Statistical methodology: II. Reliability and validity assessment in study design, Part B. Academic Emergency Medicine, Vol. 4, no. 2: 144-147.

Lambert, S.D. and Loiselle, C.G. 2007. Health Information-Seeking Behavior. Qualitative Health Research. Vol. 17, no. 8: 1006-1019. Available at: doi: 10.1177/1049732307305199.

Lee H.Y., Jin, S.W., Henning-Smith, C., Lee, J., and Lee, J. 2021. Role of health literacy in health-related information-seeking behavior online: Cross-sectional study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 23, no. 1: 14088.

Lin, Y. H., Liu, C. H., and Chiu, Y. C. 2020. Google searches for the keywords of ‘wash hands’ predict the speed of national spread of COVID-19 outbreak among 21 countries. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Vol: 87: 30–32. Available at: doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.020.

Maitz, E., Maitz, K., Sendlhofer, G., Wolfsberger, C., Mautner, S., Kamolz, L.P., and Gasteiger-Klicpera, B. 2020. Internet-based health information–seeking behavior of students aged 12 to 14 years: Mixed methods study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 22, no. 5: 16281.

Majid, S., and Rahmat, N. 2013. Information needs and seeking behaviour during the H1N1 virus outbreak. Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice, Vol. 1: 42–53.

Nagpal, S. J., Karimianpour, A., and Mukhija, D. 2015. Dissemination of misleading information on social media during the 2014 Ebola epidemic: An area of concern. Travel Medicine Infectious Disease, Vol. 13, no. 4: 338–339. Available at: doi:10.1016/j.tmaid.2015.05.002.

Nutbeam, D. 1998. Health promotion glossary. Health Promotion International, Vol. 13, no. 4: 349–364. Available at: doi: 10.1093/heapro/13.4.349.

Odlum, M., and Yoon, S. 2018. Health information needs and health seeking behaviour during the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak: A Twitter content analysis. PLOS Currents, Available at: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.fa814fb2bec36e29b718ab6af66124fa.

Okan, O., Bollweg, T. M., Berens, E.-M., Hurrelmann, K., Bauer, U., and Schaeffer, D. 2020. Coronavirus-related health literacy: A cross-sectional study in adults during the COVID-19 infodemic in Germany. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 17, no. 15: 5503. Available at:

Paakkari, L., and Okan, O. 2020. COVID-19: Health literacy is an underestimated problem. Lancet Public Health, Vol. 5, no. 5: e249–e250. Available at: doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30086-4.

Parikh, P. A., Shah, B. V., Phatak, A. G., Vadnerkar, A. C., Uttekar, S., Thacker, N., and Nimbalkar, S. M. 2020. COVID-19 Pandemic: Knowledge and perceptions of the public and healthcare professionals. Cureus, Vol. 12, no. 5: e8144. Available at: doi:10.7759/cureus.8144.

Pennycook, G., McPhetres, J., Zhang, Y., Lu, J. G., and Rand, D.G. 2020. Fighting COVID-19 misinformation on social media: Experimental evidence for a scalable accuracy-nudge intervention. Psychological Science, Vol. 31, no. 7: 770-780. Available at:

Pennycook, G., and Rand, D. G. 2019. Fighting misinformation on social media using crowdsourced judgments of news source quality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 116, 2521–2526. Available at:

Peyvand, M., Kargar, S. and Hajizade, F. 2020. The role of health literacy promotion in epidemic control corona 19. Journal of Health Literacy, Vol. 5, no. 1: 9–11.

Riiser, K., Helseth, S., Haraldstad, K., Torbjørnsen, A., and Richardsen, K. R. 2020. Adolescents’ health literacy, health protective measures, and health-related quality of life during the Covid-19 pandemic”. PLoS ONE, Vol. 15, no. 8: e0238161. Available at:

Sørensen, K., Pelikan, J. M., Röthlin, F., Ganahl K, Slonska Z, Doyle G, Fullam J, Kondilis B, Agrafiotis D, Uiters E, Falcon M, Mensing M, Tchamov K, van den Broucke S, Brand H 2015. Health literacy in Europe: Comparative results of the European Health Literacy Survey (HLS-EU). European Journal of Public Health, Vol. 25, no. 6: 1053–1058.

Thelwall, M., and Thelwall, S. 2020. Retweeting for COVID-19: Consensus building, information sharing, dissent, and lockdown life. Available at

Tumpey, A. J., Daigle, D., and Nowak, G. 2018. Communicating during an outbreak or public health investigation. The CDC Field Epidemiology Manual. Available at:

Wiederhold, B. K. 2020. Using social media to our advantage: Alleviating anxiety during a pandemic. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Vol. 23, no. 4. Available at: doi:10.1089/cyber.2020.29180.bkw.

World Health Organization, WHO. 2018. Managing epidemics: Key facts about major deadly diseases. Luxembourg: World Health Organization.

World Health Organization, WHO. 2020. Global surveillance for COVID-19 disease caused by human infection with novel coronavirus (‎COVID-19)‎: Interim guidance. Available at:

Yang, J., Zheng, Y., Gou, X., Pu K., Chen, Z., Guo, Q., Ji, R., Wang, H., Wang, Y., Zhou, Y. 2020. Prevalence of comorbidities in the novel Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Vol. 94: 91-95. Available at: doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.03.017.

Zarocostas J. 2020. How to fight an infodemic. Lancet, Vol. 395, no. 10225: 676. Available at: doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30461-X.

Zhang, Y.-Z. 2020. Novel 2019 coronavirus genome. Available at:

Zimmerman, M.S. and Shaw Jr, G. 2020. Health-information-seeking behaviour: A concept analysis. Health Information and Libraries Journals. Vol. 37, no. 3: 173-191.