The relationship between media consumption and health-related anxieties after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 14;8(8):e65331. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065331. eCollection 2013.


Background: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster caused a global panic by a release of harmful radionuclides. In a disaster setting, misusage of contemporary media sources available today can lead to disseminated incorrect information and panic. The study aims to build a scale which examines associations between media and individual anxieties, and to propose effective media usages for future disaster management.

Methods: The University of Tokyo collaborated with the Fukushima local government to conduct a radiation-health-seminar for a total of 1560 residents, at 12 different locations in Fukushima. A 13 item questionnaire collected once before and after a radiation-seminar was used on factor analysis to develop sub-scales for multiple regression models, to determine relationships between the sub-scales and media type consumed. A paired t-test was used to examine any changes in sub-scale of pre- and post-seminar scores.

Results: Three sub-scales were revealed and were associated with different media types: was with rumors, while concern for the future was positively associated with regional-newspapers and negatively with national-newspapers. Anxiety about social-disruption was associated with radio. The seminar had a significant effect on anxiety reduction for all the three sub-scales.

Conclusion: Different media types were associated with various heightened concerns, and that a radiation seminar was helpful to reduce anxieties in the post-disaster setting. By tailoring post-disaster messages via specific media types, i.e., radio, it may be possible to effectively convey important information, as well as to calm fears about particular elements of post-disaster recovery and to combat rumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis

Grants and funding

This work was supported by The Toyota Foundation Great East Japan Special Policy Development Grant program (grant number D12-EA-0078). No additional external funding received for this study. The funder had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.