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Social media analysis provides an alternate approach to monitoring and understanding risk perceptions regarding COVID-19 over time. Our current understandings of risk perceptions regarding COVID-19 do not disentangle the three dimensions of risk perceptions (perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, and negative emotion) as the pandemic has evolved. Data are also limited regarding the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) on COVID-19-related risk perceptions over time. To address these knowledge gaps, we extracted tweets regarding COVID-19-related risk perceptions and developed indicators for the three dimensions of risk perceptions based on over502 million geotagged tweets posted by over 4.9 million Twitter users from January2020 to December 2021 in the United States. We examined correlations between risk perception indicator scores and county-level SDOH. The three dimensions of risk perceptions demonstrate different trajectories. Perceived severity maintained a high level throughout the study period. Perceived susceptibility and negative emotion peaked on March 11, 2020 (COVID-19 declared global pandemic by WHO) and then declined and remained stable at lower levels until increasing once again with the Omicron period. Relative frequency of tweet posts on risk perceptions did not closely follow epidemic trends of COVID-19 (cases, deaths). Users from socioeconomically vulnerable counties showed lower attention to perceived severity and susceptibility of COVID-19 than those from wealthier counties. Examining trends in tweets regarding the multiple dimensions of risk perceptions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can help policymakers frame in-time, tailored, and appropriate responses to prevent viral spread and encourage preventive behavior uptake in the United States.

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APA Citation

Qiao, S., Li, Z., Liang, C., Li, X., & Rudisill, C. (2022). Three dimensions of COVID‐19 risk perceptions and their socioeconomic correlates in the United States: A social media analysis. Risk Analysis: An International Journal.