Shaping North-African Public Health Decisions: A Latent Class Analysis of Social Media's Influence on Attitudes and Behaviors Towards COVID-19 Vaccines
Keywords:Behavioral analysis, Digital influence, Health decision-making, Public opinion, Vaccination attitudes
Background: The global crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the crucial role of vaccines in public health. However, the success of vaccination campaigns is not solely determined by the availability of vaccines but also by public willingness to receive them. In North Africa, the variability in vaccine acceptance has raised concerns, drawing attention to the need for understanding the factors influencing public attitudes.
Objectives: To identify the impact of the information consumption modalities related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and its vaccines, on the vaccine uptake decision among social media users. Also, to study the relationships between vaccination attitudes, and latent subgroups, in terms of socio-demographic variables, fear of COVID-19 and perceived stress.
Method: A total of 723 subjects (males: 48.8%; mean±standard deviation of age: 31±11 years), participated in our survey prepared online on the Google Forms application via the platforms Twitter and Facebook.
Results: Five latent classes were identified by the analysis: Class 1 (mixed consumers), class 2 (largest consumers of social media), class 3 (consumers of official information), class 4 (low consumers of information on the vaccine), and class 5 (social media consumers and information verifiers). The subgroup that is knowledgeable about COVID-19 pandemic and its vaccines, and which consumes the most information about the vaccine from official sources, is the one with the highest vaccine acceptance rate. In addition, the hesitant attitude towards the COVID-19 vaccine was linked to gender and mask wearing, while refusal behavior was linked to age, female gender, education level, mask wearing, and fear of COVID-19.
Conclusion: This study's investigation into the impact of social media on public attitudes and behaviors towards COVID-19 vaccines in North Africa has significant implications for both public health strategy and policy. By identifying distinct latent classes based on social media usage patterns, the research reveals a complex landscape of factors influencing vaccine hesitancy in the region. The nuanced understanding derived from these findings is crucial for the development of more effective public health messaging, tailored to address the specific concerns and misinformation trends prevalent within each identified group. The insights gained from this study can guide policymakers in allocating resources more effectively, particularly in areas exhibiting higher levels of vaccine hesitancy.
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