Predicting health behavior in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Worldwide survey results from early March 2020

David Anaki, Jamie Sergay

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34 Scopus citations


The current pandemic outbreak of the novel COVID-19, which originated from Wuhan in China in late 2019, has eventually spread to six continents with a rising toll of death cases. No vaccine has yet been developed for COVID-19. The compliance of the general public with the advice and regulations of the health authorities and the adoption of effective health behavior regimens are currently the only weapons to effectively cope with the disease. Here we report the results of a worldwide survey (n = 953) conducted between March 2 and March 14, 2020 that sought (a) to identify critical proximal predictors of health behavior relevant to the current situation, (b) to examine their relationships to various demographic characteristics of the population, (c) and to provide a model of health behavior specific to COVID-19. We found that the perceived severity of the disease and susceptibility to it, emotional reactions, and attitudes toward COVID-19 predicted one-third of the preventive behavior variance. Various demographic variables influenced these predictors. Based on the data collected, we constructed, using path analysis, a theoretical model of health behavior. Our results emphasize the need to consider the impact of antecedent variables on actual precautionary behavior and the influence of demographic factors on these antecedent variables. Understanding the complex interplay of these precursors in health behavior will maximize their beneficial role, eliminate maladaptive prevention patterns, and facilitate the eradication of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0244534
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1 January
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Anaki, Sergay. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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