It is unknown whether adults who are susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 recognize their susceptibility and modify behavior to reduce exposure. Schoeni, et al. (2021) sought to determine whether adults with risk factors for COVID-19 complications perceive an elevated chance of complications and undertake fewer higher infection risk behaviors.
This cross-sectional analysis, adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, included civilian noninstitutionalized US adults of wave 18 of the Understanding America Study collected from Nov. 11 to Dec. 9, 2020.
Primary outcomes were perceived percentage chance of infection and hospitalization and death if infected; whether 9 potentially higher infection risk activities were undertaken in the past week and, if so, whether a mask was worn; whether a mask was worn anywhere in the past week; and attitudes toward 12 aspects of mask wearing.
In Understanding America Study wave 18 (n = 5910 participants with nonmissing data), the mean age was 48 years, and 52% were women. The response rate was 77%. Adults with 7 of 9 medical risk factors and aged 70 years and older reported a higher perceived chance of complications if infected. Adjusted mean perceived chance of hospitalization if infected ranged from 23.9% (95% CI, 22.2%-25.5%) for those with high blood pressure to 40.4% (95% CI, 34.6%-46.2%) for those with chronic lung disease and was associated with number of medical risk factors: 17.6% (95% CI, 16.4%-18.8%) and 41.8% (95% CI, 38.7%-45.0%) for adults with 0 vs 3 or more medical risk factors, respectively. Fewer potentially higher infection risk activities were undertaken by adults with 3 or more vs 0 risk factors: 2.83 (95% CI, 2.66-2.99) vs 3.12 (95% CI, 3.02-3.22). Wearing a mask sometime last week was nearly universal (90.1%). But during only 1 specific activity (visiting a grocery store or pharmacy) did more than half always wear a mask, and for only 1 activity (visiting a grocery store or pharmacy) was mask wearing more common among adults with 3 or more vs 0 conditions.
In this cross-sectional survey study, adults with risk factors for COVID-19 complications reported higher perceived susceptibility to complications. During common activities, including visiting with friends, the majority of adults, including the highly susceptible, did not consistently wear masks.
Reference: Schoeni RF, et al. Association Between Risk Factors for Complications From COVID-19, Perceived Chances of Infection and Complications, and Protective Behavior in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(3):e213984. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.3984