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Article

Misinformation, Fears and Adherence to Preventive Measures during the Early Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study in Poland

1
Student Research Club of Clinical Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60-806 Poznań, Poland
2
Student Research Group of Paediatric Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60-572 Poznań, Poland
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Student Research Group of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 61-861 Poznań, Poland
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Department of Environmental Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 60-806 Poznań, Poland
5
Integrated Science Association (ISA), Universal Scientific Education and Research Network (USERN), 60-806 Poznań, Poland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Marco Viviani
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12266; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212266
Received: 5 October 2021 / Revised: 18 November 2021 / Accepted: 21 November 2021 / Published: 22 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Misinformation on Social Media)
The response to the pandemic requires access to accurate information and public understanding and adherence to preventive measures. This online cross-sectional study of adult Poles (n = 1337) assessed the frequency of COVID-19 preventive behaviors, fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and beliefs in COVID-19-related conspiracy theories during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic when the nationwide lockdown was imposed (April 2020). As shown, 22% of surveyed admitted not to wash their hands frequently, while 12% did not use disinfectants. These two behaviors were also less frequent in individuals with medical education. The highest levels of pandemic-related fears were associated with health loss in relatives, pandemic-induced economic crisis, and government using a pandemic to control citizens by the state. A significant share of surveyed individuals believed that the pandemic was intentional action to weaken non-Chinese economies (32%) or was deliberately induced for profits from selling vaccines (27%). Men, individuals with no children, and subjects with lower education were significantly less likely to adhere to sanitary measures (handwashing, disinfection, avoiding face touching, changes in greeting etiquette, face-covering when coughing or sneezing), and were less concerned over self and relatives’ health. At the same time, men were less prone than women to the conspiracy theories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The results indicate that adherence to sanitary measures during the pandemic can be a challenge also in developed countries, while misinformation campaigns (also concerning vaccines) have already affected the general public during the early phase of the epidemiological outbreak. The study provides observations that may be useful in the management of the public response to future epidemics. View Full-Text
Keywords: infodemic; pandemic; social media; fear; preventive measures; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2 infodemic; pandemic; social media; fear; preventive measures; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2
MDPI and ACS Style

Nowak, B.M.; Miedziarek, C.; Pełczyński, S.; Rzymski, P. Misinformation, Fears and Adherence to Preventive Measures during the Early Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study in Poland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 12266. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212266

AMA Style

Nowak BM, Miedziarek C, Pełczyński S, Rzymski P. Misinformation, Fears and Adherence to Preventive Measures during the Early Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study in Poland. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(22):12266. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212266

Chicago/Turabian Style

Nowak, Bartosz M., Cezary Miedziarek, Szymon Pełczyński, and Piotr Rzymski. 2021. "Misinformation, Fears and Adherence to Preventive Measures during the Early Phase of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Study in Poland" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 22: 12266. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212266

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