Understanding COVID-19 Risk Perception and Behaviors

Effective prevention of COVID-19’s spread is strongly predicated on adherence of the population to recommendations of health professionals. It is therefore critical that we identify the factors that contribute to an individual’s health decision-making with respect to adherence to the recommendations. We are developing two projects to help inform health policy and strategies around COVID-19:

  • National survey. We are creating a cross-sectional survey in collaboration with the Nationscape survey study (which is collecting 500,000 surveys through weekly interviews of Americans from July 2019 through December 2020) to identify and develop potential strategies to enhance compliance. Our survey will cover risk perception, factors influencing risk perception (e.g., primary sources of information, education; risk behaviors, factors influencing risk behaviors (e.g., demographics, health insurance), preexisting health beliefs and psychosocial factors (e.g., social isolation, anxiety, worry). The questions will help assess: 1) COVID-related behaviors (e.g., protective behaviors and high-risk behaviors); and 2) health preventive behaviors (e.g., increasing health maintenance). Results from this large study will be widely disseminated and will form the basis of a comparative effectiveness study for different preventative health interventions.
  • Cancer screening patients. The WISDOM Study involves an enrolled cohort of >25,000 women and already includes assessment around breast cancer risk, perception, and anxiety. We are proposing to extend this assessment with similar COVID-19 specific question in similar areas, gaging psychosocial measures of anxiety and depression within this group. Results from the cohort will be further contrasted with the results of the national survey, ad we will use these results to identify educational gaps and propose practical strategies to encourage preventative behaviors.