Many Americans admit lying about COVID-19 in new survey.  Here is their reason for being

Many Americans admit lying about COVID-19 in new survey. Here is their reason for being

Nearly half of Americans admitted they weren’t truthful about their COVID-19 status or failed to follow public health measures at the height of the pandemic in a new national survey conducted in part by a team of researchers from the University of Utah Health.

Wanting to feel normal and exercising personal freedom were the most cited reasons for a list of behaviors that included lying about the precautions they were taking against the spread of the virus, breaking quarantine rules, avoiding testing and not disclosing that they had COVID-19 when asked.

The results “suggest that misrepresentation and non-adherence to public health measures related to COVID-19 constitute a serious public health challenge,” according to an article about the study published Monday in the JAMA Network Open of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“It gave us a much better idea of ​​what kind of behaviors people were engaging with and how prevalent they were. I think more importantly, we have a really good idea of ​​why,” said Alistair Thorpe, co – Study first author and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Population Health Sciences at U Health.

Thorpe said the results were more concerning than surprising.

Many of the behaviors people were asked if they had engaged in “can have very serious consequences,” he said, such as not being open about having COVID-19 when they go to a doctor, “a place where there are potentially very vulnerable people who you are unknowingly exposing yourself to a very serious virus.

The online survey of 1,733 participants, including six respondents who said they lived in Utah, was conducted in December 2021, when the highly transmissible omicron variant of COVID-19 that drove cases to record highs in the whole world started sweeping the country.

In Utah, the surge of omicron led to the reimposition of mask mandates in Salt Lake and Summit counties, an effort that was quickly halted by state lawmakers, while hospitals ended up be so overcrowded that patients had to be turned away.

But just under 42% of Americans who took the survey reported misrepresenting or not following at least one of the nine behaviors, most often telling someone they spent time with. that they were taking more action against COVID-19 than they actually were.

Respondents who admitted that they had not been honest with others and/or did not follow rules intended to protect the public were asked to answer yes or no to a long list of possible reasons for their behavior . The most popular choices were:

  • “I wanted my life to be ‘normal’ (how I felt before the COVID-19 pandemic started).”
  • “I wanted to exercise my freedom to do whatever I want.”
  • “It’s nobody else’s business.”
  • “I didn’t feel very sick.”
  • “I was taking the advice of a public figure I trust (politicians, scientists, news personalities, celebrities).”

However, the survey also found that “a substantial portion of participants” also agreed with these reasons:

  • “I didn’t think COVID-19 was real.”
  • “I didn’t think COVID-19 was a big deal.”
  • “I didn’t want anyone to judge me or think badly of me.”

A third of the participants had already had COVID-19, while the remaining participants who had not had the virus were split between vaccinated and unvaccinated. About 60% having sought the advice of a doctor for prevention or treatment.

While those under 60 – and those who expressed greater distrust of science – were more likely to engage in misrepresentation or non-adherence behaviors, no association was found with political beliefs, party affiliation or religion.

“We don’t believe these are simple behaviors, that people do one thing for a reason,” Thorpe said. “We really have to work to solve them all, so it’s not, ‘Oh, if we change one thing, it will have the desired result.’ It is a very complex behavioral process.

A theme that emerged was “people who want to retain their autonomy, that they feel it’s nobody else’s business, that they want to exercise their personal freedom. The fact that these similar concepts are constantly prevalent for a number of reasons tells us something about how we can work better to communicate,” he said.

Making it easier to comply with public health measures can help people feel less resilient, Thorpe said. But he said public health officials also need to “figure out how you can talk to people about these concerns that they have in a way that can help them engage more with these measures” and see their collective benefit. .

“That’s why this study is so important. We have to try to figure out who we don’t communicate with as well and how we can do better,” Thorpe said. The challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic is that “people have been asked to do things they never even had to figure out before in their lives. So it’s a challenge. »

Many people have struggled to shift their perspective from viewing compliance with public health measures in terms of personal concerns to focusing more on how their actions might protect others. It “goes back to how a lot of these things have been really harrowing. You can have the best intentions,” he said.

Thorpe said the pandemic has placed people “into an extremely long period of uncertainty, of stress in all aspects of your life – your social life, your financial life, your life philosophies – those kinds of situations, those situations extremes as we have seen here can make it difficult to adopt more proactive behavior.

In addition to Thorpe and others at the University of Utah, including Angela Fagerlin, the study’s lead author and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences, Salt Lake Veterans Administration researchers City as well as institutions in Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa and the American Heart Association also contributed to the study.

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