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British Journal of Health Psychology





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The mainstream media tend to rely on news content that will increase risk perceptions of pandemic outbreaks to stimulate public response and persuade people to comply with preventive behaviours. The objective of this study was to examine associations between exposure to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news, risk perceptions, and depressive symptoms.


Cross-sectional data were collected from 501 participants who were ≥18 years. Exposure to COVID-19 news was assessed as our exposure variable. We screened for depression (outcome variable) with the Patient Health Questionnaire and examined the roles of risk perceptions. Multiple linear regressions and mediation analysis with 1000 bootstrap resamples were conducted.


Participants were 55.29% female, 67.86% White with mean age 32.44 ± 11.94 years. After controlling for sociodemographic and socio-economic factors, news exposure was positively associated with depressive symptoms β = .11; 95% confidence interval (95%CI) = 0.02–0.20. Mediation analysis showed that perceived vulnerability to COVID-19 mediated 34.4% of this relationship (β = .04; 95%CI = 0.01–0.06).


Perceived vulnerability to COVID-19 can serve as a pathway through which exposure to COVID-19 news on mainstream media may be associated with depressive symptoms. Based on our findings, we offered recommendations for media–health partnership, practice, and research.


"This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Exposure to coronavirus news on mainstream media: the role of risk perceptions and depression in The British Psychological Society 25(4), which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited."