BACKGROUND: The rapid outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) around the world has adversely affected the mental health of the public . The prevalence of anxiety among the public increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic . However, there are few studies on the effects of positive psychological responses and information seeking behaviors on WeChat users' anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic .
OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the prevalence of anxiety and its associated factors among the WeChat users in mainland China during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic .
METHODS: From February 10 to February 24 , 2020, a nationwide cross-sectional survey was carried out online using convenience sampling in mainland China . Levels of anxiety, positive psychological responses, and information seeking behaviors were measured . Questionnaires were distributed to WeChat users via the WeChat smart phone platform . Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression analyses were applied to examine the factors associated with anxiety .
RESULTS: This study found that the prevalence of anxiety (GAD-7 score & #8805; 7) among WeChat users in China was 446/2,483 (17.96 %) during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic . Cannot stop searching for information on COVID-19, concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, and spending more than 1 hour consuming information about the COVID-19 pandemic were observed to be associated with increased levels of anxiety according to the results of multivariable logistic regression . Additionally, participants who chose social media and commercial media as the primary sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic were found more likely to report anxiety in this study . Conversely, it was observed that participants who were confident or rational about the COVID-19 pandemic were less likely to report anxiety .
CONCLUSIONS: This study found that positive psychological responses and information seeking behaviors were closely associated with anxiety among WeChat users during the COVID-19 pandemic in China . It might be paramount to enhance mental well-being by helping people respond to the COVID-19 pandemic more rationally and positively in order to decrease symptoms of anxiety.