Personal protection measures are the key to COVID-19 epidemic control and prevention in the community. Newer forms of media present useful options for such information transmission. By presenting primary data from 420 residents in mainland China, this exploratory study aims to explore the communication mechanism which utilizes new media for disseminating epidemic-related information in the community during the COVID-19 outbreak, and to assess its effectiveness by identifying effects of this communication on perceptions and behaviours accordingly. Results show China-originated mobile social media such as WeChat, rather than FB or TW are predominantly used and preferred compared with the traditional media, on which residents are more reliant for information, and through which both types of general and specialized purpose information take significant effects on individuals’ perceptions and behaviors toward personal protection. Particularly, the specialized purpose information is more likely to influence individuals’ personal protection behaviours which are also significantly affected by their perceptions. It reveals that information content or new media content can lead to changes in personal protection perceptions and/or behaviours of residents. This article constructs the mechanism framework of COVID-19 epidemic crisis communication on personal protection. Implications and suggestions are then given for more relevant effective community communication strategy making accordingly.
Key words: Community communication, mobile social media, COVID-19, personal protection, media dependency.
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