From warning messages to preparedness behavior: The role of risk perception and information interaction in the Covid-19 pandemic

Yanan Guo*, Shi An, Tina Comes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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During infectious disease outbreaks, early warning is crucial to prevent and control the further spread of the disease. While the different waves of the Covid-19 pandemic have demonstrated the need for continued compliance, little is known about the impact of warning messages and risk perception on individual behavior in public health emergencies. To address this gap, this paper uses data from the second wave of Covid-19 in China to analyse how warning information influences preventive behavior through four categories risk perception and information interaction. Drawing on the protective action decision model (PADM) and the social amplification of risk framework (SARF), risk warning information (content, channel, and type), risk perception (threat perception, hazard- and resource-related preparedness behavior perception and stakeholder perception), information interaction, and preparedness behavior intention are integrated into a comprehensive model. To test our model, we run a survey with 724 residents in Northern China. The results show that hazard-related preparedness behavior perception and stakeholder perception act as mediators between warning and preventive action. Stakeholder perception had much stronger mediating effects than the hazard-related attributes. In addition, information interaction is effective in increasing all categories risk perception, stimulating public response, while functioning as a mediator for warning. The risk warning information content, channel, and type are identified as key drivers of risk perception. The research found that information channel was more related to different risk perception than other characteristics. Overall, these associations in our model explain core mechanisms behind compliance and allow policy-makers to gain new insights into preventive risk communication in public health emergencies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102871
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022


  • early warning system
  • information interaction
  • preparedness behavior
  • risk communication
  • risk perception
  • variants Covid-19
  • Risk communication
  • Risk perception
  • Preparedness behavior
  • SEM
  • Information interaction
  • Variants Covid-19
  • Early warning system


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