Newswise — The H1N1 pandemic in 2009 ... the 2014 Ebola epidemic ... the 2017 Zika outbreak ... the 2020 Coronavirus crisis. Worldwide public health threats often impact people psychologically beyond the impact of the actual biological agent, say University of California, Irvine researchers.

Roxane Cohen Silver, UCI professor of psychological science; Rebecca R. Thompson, a psychological science postdoctoral scholar; Dana Rose Garfin, adjunct faculty in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing; and E. Alison Holman, an associate professor in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, conducted a study of Americans' responses to Ebola. Their 2017 findings, published online in the journal Association for Psychological Science, are very relevant to the reactions to today's Coronavirus outbreak.

They can answer questions such as:

  • Has the coverage by mainstream media been sensationalized?
  • Does the constant deluge of stories, from China's recent admission of "shortcomings" and "deficiencies" in its handling and sharing of information sensationalize mainstream media coverage of the outbreak?
  • What is social media's impact on people's response to Coronavirus stories?
  • Is there a recommended limit to how much Coronavirus media coverage one should consume - mainstream and social?
  • What can people do to help alleviate negative psychological outcomes?
  • What role should government agencies like the CDC and local health providers play in providing the public with accurate information?