COVID-19 information fatigue? A case study of a German university website during two waves of the pandemic

Hum Behav Emerg Technol. 2021 Jul;3(3):350-356. doi: 10.1002/hbe2.260. Epub 2021 May 6.


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the ubiquity of health-related information, disseminated using digital technology. However, recent research suggests that this accessibility of (often negative) information can induce adverse psychological effects, including anxiety, panic-based hoarding, and other unhealthy behaviors. Some of these consequences have been explained with the idea of an information overload. Considering these current developments, it may become harder to effectively communicate COVID-19-related information in smaller, local contexts, such as universities. By analyzing the page views and searches on the website of a university of education in Germany, we derive recommendations for the delivery of information of local organizations. One conclusion is that the need for information during the pandemic decreases as time passes (at least at the local level of institutions such as universities), and even new emergencies such as the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19 only affect this behavioral pattern to a minor extent. As a result of this COVID-19 information fatigue, strategies to keep members of institutions informed are discussed. In addition, we suggest developing a mobile app for delivering individualized information right on hand using machine learning and natural language processing strategies. In sum, individual organizations interested in keeping their members informed concerning COVID-19 should consider the use of personalized information strategies that avoid inducing negative emotional states. Moreover, potentials for connecting people using digital technology could be harnessed in local organizations.

Keywords: COVID‐19; design; emergency; information; information seeking; page views; pandemic; searches; university; website.

Publication types

  • Case Reports