The study shows a crucial behavioral modification to stop COVID-19

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One of the longest studies examining COVID prevention behaviors shows that hygiene changes have been maintained but not complex changes, such as social distancing, with important policy implications.

A just after the first closure in Australia in 2020, people are shown to have maintained simple hygiene measures in response to the pandemic, but have reduced their physical distancing over time, indicating that blockages may be required to stop the shoots.

The study by researchers at the University of Sydney at the School of Public Health and the Sydney Health Literacy Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine and Health, found that people who tended to keep behaviors at bay were more concerned by the pandemic, they had more feelings of responsibility towards their community, and they felt more confident in their ability to maintain behaviors.

He found that behavioral fatigue alone cannot be blamed for decreased distancing, and noted that the way COVID-19 behaviors change depends on how easily these behaviors can be configured into habits, the difficulty of navigating these behaviors in different social and physical environments and of how concerned people feel about the pandemic.

“Behaviors that compete with , like distancing behaviors, are particularly difficult to maintain over time, ”said Dr. Julie Ayre, lead author.

The findings are published today in the main journal PLOS ONE.

Dr Julie Ayre said the findings support the argument of localized blockades to manage outbreaks in Australia. “For serious outbreaks, governments need to act quickly, as distancing behaviors have been shown to decrease over time, sometimes even in periods when there are a higher number of cases,” he said. to say.

The lead author, Dr. Carissa Bonner, said at least clear messaging was crucial. “More complex behaviors such as it will not be maintained voluntarily without clear government instructions, ”Dr Bonner said.

“If we want to lift restrictions while there are still cases circulating, we need to do so assuming it will cost people social distance unless they are clearly told what to do.”

As for the study

Researchers at the University of Sydney conducted a survey in Australia of adults in Australia in April 2020, with a monthly follow-up for four months. Participants had to be able to read and understand English and recruitment was done through social media.

The analysis identified two types of behavior: “distancing” (e.g., staying 1.5 m away) and “hygiene” (e.g., washing hands).

To date, longitudinal research on COVID-19 behaviors has used relatively short follow-up periods (one week) and there has been mixed evidence that risk perception, social and moral norms, and belief in the usefulness of behavior contribute. to distance the behavior. this study covers an important research gap. Limitations of the study include the nature of self-reported data and the fact that participants were recruited through social media, which resulted in a higher proportion of respondents who are women, from NSW, more young and more educated.

The study found that perceptions of community risk and safety were a concern in themselves as a key driver of behavior. This supports the messaging appeal of behavioral scientists that promotes pro-social behavior and is consistent with other research on vaccine acceptability. Researchers stress that distancing behaviors are complex and that different approaches may be needed depending on the audience and the action required.

Dr. Bonner said unclear information from recent public health orders has not helped adherence: “The use of subjective terms by officials, for example, who say they use ‘common sense’ to interpret complex health orders recently, has been unhelpful and confusing. “

Researchers point out that cultural factors are important to research and are recruiting a sample of surveys from 10 language groups in south-west Sydney; details will be posted soon at healthliteracyhub.org.au.


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More information:
Julie Ayre et al, Contextualizing the Preventive Behavior of COVID-19 Over Time in Australia: Long-Term Patterns and Predictors from April to July 2020 in an Online Social Media Sample PLOS ONE (2021). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0253930

Citation: Study Shows Crucial Behavior Modification to Stop COVID-19 (2021, June 30) Retrieved June 30, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-behavior-modification-crucial -covid-.html

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