Explaining interpersonal differences in COVID-19 disease prevention behavior based on the health belief model and collective resilience theory: a cross-sectional study from Bolivia

Boris Christian Herbas-Torrico*, Björn Frank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Governments have attempted to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing guidelines for disease prevention behavior (e.g., wearing masks, social distancing, etc.) and by enforcing these guidelines. However, while some citizens have complied with these guidelines, others have ignored them or have even participated in large-scale protests. This research aims both to understand the causes of such variation in citizens’ adherence to government guidelines on disease prevention behavior and to extend the scientific literature on disease prevention to account for the collective resilience of a society to diseases. Thus, this research draws on the health belief model and collective resilience theory to develop hypotheses about the determinants of a citizen’s disease prevention behavior. These hypotheses deal with how citizens’ vulnerability, attitudes toward disease prevention, and social orientation are associated with COVID-19 prevention behaviors. Methods: From March 24 to April 4, 2020, a cross-sectional online survey was conducted in Bolivia. It included questions on demographic characteristics, chronic health problems, emotional burden, attitudes towards preventive behaviors, trust in public institutions, and culture. Among 5265 participants who clicked on the survey, 1857 at least partially filled it out. After removing data with missing responses to any variable, the final sample consists of 1231 respondents. The collected data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling. Results: Regarding a citizen’s vulnerability, chronic health problems have a U-shaped association with disease prevention behavior. Moreover, age, female gender, and worries have positive associations with disease prevention behavior, whereas depression showed a negative association. Regarding attitudes toward disease prevention, trust in public institutions, and attitudes toward social distancing, a government-imposed lockdown and the enforcement of this lockdown showed positive associations with disease prevention behavior. Regarding social orientation, individualism and collectivism both have positive relationships with disease prevention behavior. Conclusions: In the COVID-19 pandemic, a citizen’s low vulnerability, weak social orientation, and beliefs about low benefits of disease prevention behavior are associated with poor compliance with guidelines on disease prevention behavior. More research on these associations would help generalize these findings to other populations and other public health crises.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1077
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Disease prevention
  • Hygiene
  • Social distancing
  • Surgical mask

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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