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What Drives Resistance to Public Health Measures in Canada's COVID-19 Pandemic? A Rapid Assessment of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices

27 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2020

See all articles by Jack G. Underschultz

Jack G. Underschultz

University of Alberta - Undergraduate Medical Education

Paul Barber

University of Alberta

Daniel Richard

University of Alberta

Tracey Hillier

University of Alberta - Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging

More...

Abstract

Background: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has spread across 188 countries and claimed over 300,000 lives so far. Despite strong public health messaging and strict community restrictions in Canada, misconceptions and high-risk behaviours such as mass public gatherings have contributed to its spread across the country. Local data on the knowledge, attitudes, and practices from high-case areas could inform public health messaging during the current unprecedented pandemic.

Methods: Information on COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes, and practices was collected via online sampling from 1,593 Canadians between 6 to 16 April, 2020. The high outbreak provinces of Alberta and Ontario were targeted.

Findings: Knowledge of COVID-19 presentation, transmission, and prevention was high (mean knowledge score of 10·5/12 (88%), as was “worry” about COVID-19 (1257/1584, 79%). Despite this, a significant minority of respondents expressed attitudes resistant to public messaging that could hamper containment efforts: visiting crowded places other than grocery stores or pharmacies (138/1579, 9%), close encounters with non-household members (364/1578), 23%), and intention to not isolate if having mild flu symptoms (75/1577, 7%) or known COVID-19 exposure (26/1579, 2%). Factors associated with these risky behaviours included low COVID-19 knowledge, feeling not worried, and feeling uninformed on the pandemic. Low COVID-19 knowledge was associated with male sex, single, and living with a large number of co-habitants. Respondents reported a high acceptance of a potential vaccine (93% felt a vaccine was needed in Canada) and endorsed a wide-spread vaccination strategy (1280/1576), 81%).

Interpretation: Low levels of knowledge and worry regarding COVID-19 may be key contributors to resistance against public health messaging. Community engagement to ensure Canadians are well informed about the pandemic may be essential to further control efforts. A potential vaccine, if made available to the general public, would likely be widely accepted.

Funding Statement: This study was not funded.

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare they have no competing interests.

Ethics Approval Statement: The study was approved by the Health Research Ethics Board of the University of Alberta.

Suggested Citation

Underschultz, Jack G. and Barber, Paul and Richard, Daniel and Hillier, Tracey, What Drives Resistance to Public Health Measures in Canada's COVID-19 Pandemic? A Rapid Assessment of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (5/15/2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3605193 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3605193

Jack G. Underschultz (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Undergraduate Medical Education ( email )

1-002 Katz Group Centre for Pharmacy and Health Re
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E1
Canada
+1-780-690-2293 (Phone)

Paul Barber

University of Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R3
Canada

Daniel Richard

University of Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R3
Canada

Tracey Hillier

University of Alberta - Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R3
Canada

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