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“Looking for fun or escaping the fear?” How can COVID-19 cyberchondriacs enjoy the online shopping during the pandemic

Manel Hakim Masmoudi

Abstract: Background and Aim of Study: As the pandemic escalated into a global health crisis with abundant reports, updates and personal stories invading the World Wide Web and the social media, the context of COVID-19 offered for researchers an opportunity exploring the cyberchondria concept. Surprisingly, despite its prominence, the consequences of this shift in health behavior are still not fully appreciated. For many cyberchondriacs, the online shopping experience is considered as a coping strategy. The aim of the study: to investigate how excessive health-related anxiety leads to online shopping enjoyment, and to examine the mediating roles of COVID-19 fear and hedonic shopping motivation. Material and Methods: A survey methodology is used to collect responses from a sample of 355 consumers in Tunisia and analyzed via AMOS 23. Structural equation modeling was used to assess the causal relationship between measured variables. Results: Our results indicate that during the current pandemic, the cyberchondria was associated with an increased online shopping enjoyment guided both by a developed fear from this virus and some of the hedonic motivations. Conclusions: This study is one of the first studies that investigate the impact of cyberchondria on shopping experiences. Our findings may indicate starting points for some public health marketers and managers to make interventions to reduce cyberchondria during the pandemic. Particularly, online shopping may be considered as a safe space, where anxious people may escape. However, public health organizations should carefully consider these outcomes of cyberchondria and should elucidate clear pathways of action so that consumers feel empowered to tackle the pandemic effectively.
Keywords: fear / pandemic / online shopping / survey / Structural / cyberchondria / behavior / virus

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