Young adults respect health instructions less, study reveals

COVID-19. As a possible second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, the Center interuniversitaire de recherche en analyze des organizations (CIRANO) unveils the results of a study that takes stock of risk perception and compliance health instructions by the population in Quebec. We learn in particular that young adults respect less health instructions.

“The results of this study allow us to explain the latest developments concerning the evolution of the pandemic in Quebec – young adults respect less health instructions while declaring that they have a higher risk of contracting the virus. In addition, residents of Quebec have a lower propensity to comply with health instructions, which may explain the recent increase in cases in this region ”, explains Charles Bellemare, co-author of the study, professor at Laval University and researcher at CIRANO.

The perceived risks associated with COVID-19 influence the important choices individuals make in the face of the virus, including compliance with health instructions and the decision to go to the workplace. “The results of this research will thus make it possible to anticipate the behavior of different groups of people in anticipation of a second wave of COVID-19 and to make links between the perceived risks (under or overestimation) and compliance with the instructions of public health ”, specifies Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin, co-author of the study, professor at Polytechnique Montréal and President and CEO of CIRANO.

“Our results show that Quebecers have a poor understanding of the level of risk of contracting the virus and the complications resulting from it and that prevention behaviors vary according to various socio-economic indicators. For example, we see that respondents who had a positive test result for COVID-19 have a lower predisposition to respect the directives concerning gatherings, which seems quite worrying to us ”, specifies Sabine Kröger, co-author of the study, professor at Laval University and researcher at CIRANO.

Highlights

Risk perception

  • Respondents significantly overestimate the past risks of contracting the virus (the perceived risk of infection is 12 times higher than the objective risk for respondents from the Montreal and Laval regions, it is 309 times higher for respondents from the Lower -Saint Laurent).
  • Quebeckers estimate that they have a high probability of contracting the virus over the next 6 months – exceeding 20% ​​for the regions of Montreal, Laval, Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Quebec.
  • Respondents with lower incomes, those living with disabilities as well as those with risk factors associated with the virus have higher perceived risks of developing severe symptoms and dying from the virus.
  • Respondents who know someone who has contracted the virus believe that the past and future risks of contracting the virus are higher.
  • Young adults are the most likely to exaggerate the risks of contracting the virus, but they are also significantly more uncertain about their confidence in their estimate of risk.
  • 40% of respondents indicated having at least one risk factor associated with COVID-19 (eg asthma, diabetes, obesity, etc.) and felt that they had higher past and future risks of contracting the virus. These vulnerable people protect themselves more (wearing a mask, washing their hands).

Prevention behaviors

  • Only 60% of respondents say they always wash their hands when they get home (including those with risk factors and those who live with other people).
  • Regarding the wearing of a mask (compulsory in public places closed since July 18, 2020), 30% of respondents always say they wear it when they go out and 65% almost always. Only 4% say they wear it only a few times, if ever.
  • 65% of respondents consider it important that the guidelines for gatherings are always followed.
  • Respondents from the Quebec City metropolitan region have a lower propensity to wash their hands and wear a mask than respondents from other regions.
  • Respondents who tested positive for COVID-19 have a lower predisposition to adhere to guidelines regarding gatherings.
  • On the other hand, respondents who know one or more people with COVID-19, have a higher predisposition to respect the guidelines concerning gatherings.
  • Men are more likely not to wash their hands when they get home, to not always wear a mask, and to not find it important that assembly measures are always followed.
  • Older people are more likely to always wash their hands when coming home, to always wear a mask and to find it important that assembly measures are always followed.
  • Workers going to their place of work do not consider it important to respect assembly measures.

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