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Assessing adolescents' critical health literacy: How is trust in government leadership associated with knowledge of COVID-19?

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Mathews, Channing J  ORCID logo
McGuire, Luke 
Joy, Angelina 
Law, Fidelia 


This study explored relations between COVID-19 news source, trust in COVID-19 information source, and COVID-19 health literacy in 194 STEM-oriented adolescents and young adults from the US and the UK. Analyses suggest that adolescents use both traditional news (e.g., TV or newspapers) and social media news to acquire information about COVID-19 and have average levels of COVID-19 health literacy. Hierarchical linear regression analyses suggest that the association between traditional news media and COVID-19 health literacy depends on participants' level of trust in their government leader. For youth in both the US and the UK who used traditional media for information about COVID-19 and who have higher trust in their respective government leader (i.e., former US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson) had lower COVID-19 health literacy. Results highlight how youth are learning about the pandemic and the importance of not only considering their information source, but also their levels of trust in their government leaders.



Research Article, Medicine and health sciences, People and places, Social sciences, Computer and information sciences, Science policy

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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
U.S. National Science Foundation (DRL-1831593)
Wellcome Trust (206259/Z/17/Z)
Economic and Social Research Council (206259/Z/17/Z)