Face mask use during the COVID-19 pandemic: how risk perception, experience with COVID-19, and attitude towards government interact with country-wide policy stringency

Wismans, A. et al. (2022) Face mask use during the COVID-19 pandemic: how risk perception, experience with COVID-19, and attitude towards government interact with country-wide policy stringency. BMC Public Health, 22, 1622. (doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-13632-9) (PMID:36028876) (PMCID:PMC9412789)

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Abstract

Background: During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, governments imposed numerous regulations to protect public health, particularly the (mandatory) use of face masks. However, the appropriateness and effectiveness of face mask regulations have been widely discussed, as is apparent from the divergent measures taken across and within countries over time, including mandating, recommending, and discouraging their use. In this study, we analyse how country-level policy stringency and individual-level predictors associate with face mask use during the early stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Method: First, we study how (self and other-related) risk perception, (direct and indirect) experience with COVID-19, attitude towards government and policy stringency shape face mask use. Second, we study whether there is an interaction between policy stringency and the individual-level variables. We conduct multilevel analyses exploiting variation in face mask regulations across countries and using data from approximately 7000 students collected in the beginning of the pandemic (weeks 17 through 19, 2020). Results: We show that policy stringency is strongly positively associated with face mask use. We find a positive association between self-related risk perception and mask use, but no relationship of mask use with experience with COVID-19 and attitudes towards government. However, in the interaction analyses, we find that government trust and perceived clarity of communication moderate the link between stringency and mask use, with positive government perceptions relating to higher use in countries with regulations and to lower use in countries without regulations. Conclusions: We highlight that those countries that aim for widespread use of face masks should set strict measures, stress self-related risks of COVID-19, and use clear communication.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Face mask, compliance, COVID-19, students, multilevel analysis, policy stringency.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Letina, Dr Srebrenka
Creator Roles:
Letina, S.Investigation, Writing – review and editing, Visualization
Authors: Wismans, A., van der Zwan, P., Wennberg, K., Franken, I., Mukerjee, J., Baptista, R., Marín, J. B., Burke, A., Dejardin, M., Janssen, F., Letina, S., Millán, J. M., Santarelli, E., Torrès, O., and Thurik, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMC Public Health
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-2458
ISSN (Online):1471-2458
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMC Public Health 22: 1622
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.25397/eur.19923062

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU18HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit