COVID-19: the relationship between perceptions of risk and behaviours during lockdown

Brown, Richard, Coventry, Lynne and Pepper, Gillian (2021) COVID-19: the relationship between perceptions of risk and behaviours during lockdown. Journal of Public Health. ISSN 0943-1853 (In Press)

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MANUSCRIPT - COVID-19 BEHAVIOUR - BROWN COVENTRY AND PEPPER 2021.pdf - Accepted Version

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COVID-19 - the relationship between perceptions of risk and behaviours during lockdown - preprint 30.07.2020.pdf - Submitted Version
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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10389-021-01543-9

Abstract

Aim
Understanding COVID-19 risk perceptions and their impact on behaviour can improve the effectiveness of public health strategies. Prior evidence suggests that, when people perceive uncontrollable risks to their health, they are less likely to engage in healthful behaviour. This article aims to understand the extent to which COVID-19 is perceived as an uncontrollable risk, and to assess whether this perceived risk is associated with health behaviour.

Subject and methods
We surveyed a nationally representative sample of 496 participants during the first UK lockdown. We assessed perceptions of COVID-19-related risk, self-reported adherence to infection control measures recommended by the UK Government, and general health behaviours. We predicted that increased perceived extrinsic mortality risk (the portion of mortality risk perceived to be uncontrollable) would disincentivise healthy behaviour.

Results
Perceived threat to life was the most consistent predictor of reported adherence to infection control measures. Perceived extrinsic mortality risk was found to have increased due to the pandemic, and was associated with lower reported adherence to Government advice on diet, physical activity, and smoking.

Conclusions
Our findings suggest that health messages that highlight threat to life may be effective in increasing adherence to infection control, but may also lead to a reduction in health-promoting behaviours. We suggest that messages that highlight threat to life should be accompanied by statements of efficacy. Further, messages evoking feelings of concern for others may be effective in promoting compliance with anti-infection measures, without the potential for the unwelcome side-effect of discouraging healthy behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19, Risk perceptions, Health behaviours, Compliance, Mortality risk
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2021 15:32
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 16:16
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45838

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