Rumor-Related and Exclusive Behavior Coverage in Internet News Reports Following the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Outbreak in Japan

Jun Shigemura, Nahoko Harada, Masaaki Tanichi, Masanori Nagamine, Kunio Shimizu, Yoshiaki Katsuda, Shinichi Tokuno, Gentaro Tsumatori, Aihide Yoshino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We sought to elucidate news article reporting of adverse public psychosocial behaviors, in particular, rumor-related coverage (eg, panic, demagoguery) and exclusive behavior coverage (negative behaviors, eg, discrimination, bullying) during the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) influenza pandemic in Japan. Methods: We examined 154 Internet news-site articles reporting adverse public psychosocial responses in the first 60 days of the outbreak. Rumor-related coverage and exclusive behavior coverage were dichotomously coded as included or not. Moreover, we assessed whether or not health information (eg, coping methods, virus toxicity information) or emphasis on information quality (eg, importance of information, cautions about overreactions) were simultaneously reported. Results: Rumor-related coverage (n=120, 77.9%) was less likely to simultaneously report public health information (eg, toxicity information, health support information, and cautions about overreactions; P<.05). Conversely, exclusive behavior coverage (n=41, 26.6%) was more likely to report public health information (P<.05). Conclusions: Rumor-related coverage was less likely to have accompanying public health information, whereas exclusive behavior coverage was more likely to include it. During public health crises, it is essential to understand that rumors and exclusive behaviors have adverse effects on the public and that accompanying public health information may help people take proactive coping actions. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-463
Number of pages5
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 23 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • pandemic
  • public behavior
  • risk communication
  • rumor
  • stigmatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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