Original Article

Relationship between Sociodemographic Factors, Perceived COVID-19 Risk, and Engagement with Health Protective Behaviors

Authors: Jennifer A. Andersen, PhD, Brett Rowland, MA, Shawn M. Ratcliff, PhD, Holly C. Felix, PhD, Pearl A. McElfish, PhD


Objectives: This study describes the relationship between sociodemographic factors, chronic conditions, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) fears and stressors, and the perception of risk from COVID-19 and the use of health protective behaviors among Arkansans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Data collected from an online survey, administered in Arkansas between July and August 2020 (n = 1205), were used to estimate regressions. The data analysis was completed in April 2021.

Results: Wearing a face mask was the most commonly reported behavior (97.4%), followed by handwashing (97.2%). Protective behaviors increased with higher levels of fear (β = 0.030, P < 0.001), more stressors (β = 0.057, P = 0.002), and age (β = 0.006, P = 0.030). Female (β = 0.510, P < 0.001) and Black (β = 0.268, P = 0.039) respondents reported engaging in more protective behaviors than males or other races/ethnicities.

Conclusions: In future pandemic planning, there will be a need to create messaging and interventions to increase health protective behaviors directed at young adults, men, and those with lower education levels. Providers will need to address fears related to COVID-19 and help their patients to manage those fears and anxieties.

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Table 1. Percentage of affirmative responses relating to health-protective behaviors during the past month

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Table 2. Demographic characteristics of respondents

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Table 3. Sociodemographic differences in the mean (SE) number of health-protective behaviors: results of bivariate regressions (n = 1205)

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Table 4. Summary of multivariable regression analysis using full maximum likelihood for variables predicting number of protective behaviors engaged in (n = 1205)

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