Introduction: The spread of contradictory health information was a hallmark of the early COVID-19 pandemic. Because of a limited understanding of the disease, its mode of transmission, and its pathogenicity, the public turned to easily accessible and familiar sources of information. Some of these sources included wrong or incomplete information that could increase health risks and incidents of toxicity due to improper information about the usage of disinfectants. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic, the related household cleaning and disinfection practices among adult women living in Egypt, and the associated adverse effects of bleach toxicity during a national lockdown. Methods: Through a self-administered online survey, 452 adult women (18 years and older) living in Egypt were recruited from 13 cities between 4 June 2022 and 4 July 2022 to answer the questionnaire. The questionnaire included (41) questions in Arabic and collected data about respondents' household cleaning and disinfection practices to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and protect their families during the lockdown that started in Egypt in March 2020. Results: The study found that 88.1% (n = 398) of participants reported increased use of disinfectants during the lockdown. Women who chose social media as their primary source of information to learn about disinfection practices reported an increased frequency of respiratory symptoms associated with bleach toxicity (correlation coefficient = 0.10, p-value = 0.03), followed by women who depended on relatives and friends as the primary source of information (correlation coefficient = 0.10, p-value = 0.02). Conclusion: This study showed that social media is an easily accessible, efficient and fast communication tool that can act as a primary source for individuals seeking medical information compared to other media platforms (e.g., websites, T.V., satellite channels). However, better regulations and monitoring of its content may help limit the harms caused by the misinformation and disinformation spread by these popular platforms, particularly in times of uncertainty and upheaval.
- Social media
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health