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This content will become publicly available on October 1, 2023

Title: Information Needs of Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 has been a sustained and global crisis with a strong continual impact on daily life. Staying accurately informed about COVID-19 has been key to personal and communal safety, especially for essential workers— individuals whose jobs have required them to go into work throughout the pandemic—as their employment has exposed them to higher risks of contracting the virus. Through 14 semi-structured interviews, we explore how essential workers across industries navigated the COVID-19 information landscape to get up-to-date information in the early months of the pandemic. We find that essential workers living through a sustained crisis have a broad set of information needs. We summarize these needs in a framework that centers 1) fulfilling job requirements, 2) assessing personal risk, and 3) keeping up with crisis news coverage. Our findings also show that the sustained nature of COVID-19 crisis coverage led essential workers to experience breaking points and develop coping strategies. Additionally, we show how workplace communications may act as a mediating force in this process: lack of adequate information in the workplace caused workers to struggle with navigating a contested information landscape, while consistent updates and information exchanges at work could ease the stress of information overload. Our findings extend more » the crisis informatics field by providing contextual knowledge about the information needs of essential workers during a sustained crisis. « less
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Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
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Article 306
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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