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COVID-19 is caused by a novel virus with an unknown aetiology. People across the globe are dealing with not only a health crisis but also an 'infodemic', a term coined by the World Health Organization to refer to the avalanche of contradictory information that is arousing widespread confusion and anxiety. This study aimed to examine the prevalence of anxiety and sleep disturbance at the early stage of the pandemic, and unveil the information coping process underlying differential susceptibility to COVID-19 infection anxiety and sleep disturbance. The participants were 1,270 adults (47% men, Mage  = 42.82) from the UK and US who completed initial (Time 1) and follow-up (Time 2) surveys from 16 to 22 March and 18 to 24 May 2020, respectively. The prevalence of probable clinically relevant anxiety was 61% and 45% at the first and second time points, and more than half of the participants in this anxiety group also reported mild to severe sleep disturbance. Moreover, 41% of the participants perceived themselves as not having enough COVID-19-related information and reported higher levels of COVID-19 infection anxiety and sleep disturbance over time than those who perceived themselves as having enough of such information. Moderated mediation analysis identified two groups who were more vulnerable to both psychological problems: high blunters who sought COVID-19-related information online more frequently and high monitors who sought such information offline less frequently. These findings highlight the importance of a good match between information coping style and strategy deployment in dealing with an infodemic surrounding a novel disease.

Original publication




Journal article


J Sleep Res

Publication Date





epidemic, mental health, outbreak, psychological distress, sleep health, Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Anxiety, COVID-19, Female, Health Education, Humans, Internet, Male, Pandemics, Prevalence, Sleep, Sleep Wake Disorders, Surveys and Questionnaires, Wakefulness