An overwhelming flood of misinformation is accompanying the pandemic of COVID-19. Fake news and conspiracy theories are so prevalent that the World Health Organization started as early as February 2020 to use the term “infodemic”. This paper is focused on the assessment of the prevalence of beliefs in conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 in Polish society. The association of support for conspiracy theories with sociodemographic variables, health literacy (HL) and eHealth literacy (eHL) was studied. The analysis reported here was based on the data from an online survey of a representative sample (n
= 1002) of the adult population of Polish Internet users. The multivariate linear regression for the COVID-19-related conspiracy belief score (CCBS) and logistic regression models for the support of individual conspiracy theories was developed. The percentage of supporters of particular conspiracy theories in the study sample ranged from 43% to 56%. The CCBS was significantly associated with age, education level, vocational status and both HL and eHL. However, it was lower for persons with higher HL (regression coefficient (B) = −0.04, p
< 0.001) but higher for those with higher eHL (B = 0.04, p
= 0.038). The most influential predictors of CCBS were age (standardised regression coefficient (β) = −0.21) and education level (β from 0.08 to 0.16 for respondents with lower education levels and those with master’s degrees). In conclusion, younger persons rather than older, those with a lower rather than with a higher level of education, employees rather than students and persons with lower rather than higher HL were more likely to believe the conspiracy theories. Surprisingly, contrary to expectations, higher eHL was significantly associated with greater belief in such theories.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited