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Publication Detail
Perceived risk factors for severe Covid-19 symptoms and their association with health behaviours: Findings from the HEBECO study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Herbec A, Brown J, Jackson SE, Kale D, Zatoński M, Garnett C, Chadborn T, Shahab L
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Acta Psychologica
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
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  • Keywords:
    Covid-19, Cross-sectional, Health behaviours, Optimism bias, Risk perceptions
  • Notes:
    © 2021 Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Risk perceptions are important influences on health behaviours. We used descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression models to assess cross-sectionally risk perceptions for severe Covid-19 symptoms and their health behaviour correlates among 2206 UK adults from the HEBECO study. The great majority (89-99%) classified age 70+, having comorbidities, being a key worker, overweight, and from an ethnic minority as increasing the risk. People were less sure about alcohol drinking, vaping, and nicotine replacement therapy use (17.4-29.5% responding 'don't know'). Relative to those who did not, those who engaged in the following behaviours had higher odds of classifying these behaviours as (i) decreasing the risk: smoking cigarettes (adjusted odds ratios, aORs, 95% CI = 2.26, 1.39-3.37), and using e-cigarettes (aORs = 5.80, 3.25-10.34); (ii) having no impact: smoking cigarettes (1.98; 1.42-2.76), using e-cigarettes (aORs = 2.63, 1.96-3.50), drinking alcohol (aORs = 1.75, 1.31-2.33); and lower odds of classifying these as increasing the risk: smoking cigarettes (aORs: 0.43, 0.32-0.56), using e-cigarettes (aORs = 0.25, 0.18-0.35). Similarly, eating more fruit and vegetables was associated with classifying unhealthy diet as 'increasing risk' (aOR = 1.37, 1.12-1.69), and exercising more with classifying regular physical activity as 'decreasing risk' (aOR = 2.42, 1.75-3.34). Risk perceptions for severe Covid-19 among UK adults were lower for their own health behaviours, evidencing optimism bias. These risk perceptions may form barriers to changing people's own unhealthy behaviours, make them less responsive to interventions that refer to the risk of Covid-19 as a motivating factor, and exacerbate inequalities in health behaviours and outcomes.
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