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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 2020More...
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: Suggested Citation