Four of 10 Americans surveyed report that they were often less than truthful about whether they had COVID-19 and/or didn’t comply with many of the disease’s preventive measures during the height of the pandemic, according to a new nationwide study led in part by University of Utah Health scientists. The most common reasons were wanting to feel normal and exercise personal freedom.
The study, which appears in the Oct. 10, 2022, issue of JAMA Network Open, raises concerns about how reluctance to accurately report health status and adherence to masking, social distancing, and other public health measures could potentially lengthen the current COVID-19 pandemic or promote the spread of other infectious diseases in the future, according to Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., senior author of the study and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at U of U Health.
In the survey, conducted in December 2021, more than 1,700 people from across the country were asked to reveal whether they had ever misrepresented their COVID-19 status, vaccination status, or told others that they were following public health measures when they actually weren’t. The sample size is far larger and asked about a broader range of behaviors than previous studies on this topic, according to Dr. Fagerlin, who is also a research scientist at the Veteran Affairs Salt Lake City Healthcare System.
“This study goes a long way toward showing us what concerns people have about the public health measures implemented in response to the pandemic and how likely they are to be honest in the face of a global crisis,” says Alistair Thorpe, Ph.D., co-first author and a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Population Health Sciences at U
In addition to Fagerlin and Thorpe, University of Utah Health researchers Holly Shoemaker, Frank A. Drews, Jorie M. Butler, and Vanessa Stevens contributed to this study. Other participating institutions include Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut; University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora; Veterans Affairs Denver Center for Innovation; University of Iowa School of Medicine, Iowa City; Salt Lake City VA Informatics Decision-Enhancement and Analytic Sciences (IDEAS) Center for Innovation; VA Salt Lake City Health Care System; and the American Heart Association.
The study, “Misrepresentation and Nonadherence Regarding COVID-19 Public Health Measures,” appears in the Oct. 10, 2022, issue of JAMA Network Open. It was supported by the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Endowment and an American Heart Association Children’s Strategically Focused Research Network Fellowship.
of U Health. “Knowing that will help us better prepare for the next wave of worldwide illness.”
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