COVID-19 Risk Prevention Among United States Adults: Perceptions and Actions

Location: United States

Alumni: Alyssa Fowlds

Faculty: Jenna Coalson

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus caused by the viral agent SARS-CoV-2 that emerged in China in December 2019 and spread globally throughout the first half of 2020. As of June 30th, there have been more than two million COVID-19 cases and 127,000 associated deaths in the U.S. alone (JohnsHopkins, 2020). While transmission is beginning to decline in some parts of the world, cases in the U.S. continued to climb in the summer of 2020. This study aims to analyze the perceptions and health behaviors of United States inhabitants in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. A knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) survey was designed to measure adherence to prevention behaviors constructs of the Health Belief Model, including perceived threat (severity and susceptibility), perceived barriers, and self-efficacy. This survey was administered cross-sectionally at the end of May 2020, reflecting a period in the U.S. where many states had strict social policies about isolation and physical distancing. The perceived threat and engagement in preventive health behaviors were descriptively characterized, and related predictors were analyzed to understand population variability. The findings showed that a majority of the sampled population had an overall high perceived threat in response to COVID- 19 and did highly adhere to preventative health behaviors in May 2020, such as physical distancing. Individual variables, such as demographics and health status were analyzed for their contribution to perceived threat and adherence to health behaviors. Increasing age was significantly associated with the odds of having a high perceived threat and the odds of high adherence to physical distancing. The findings from this study can aid in locating target groups for public health messaging and outreach with the hopes of mitigating, not only COVID-19 transmission, but can also be utilized for the mitigation of other infectious disease outbreaks.

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