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Worry and behaviour at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Results from three UK surveys (the COVID-19 Rapid Survey of Adherence to Interventions and Responses [CORSAIR] study)

Publication date: 

27 Dec 2021


Preventive Medicine 2021. Doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101686


Smith LE, Potts HWW, Amlôt R, Fear NT, Michie S, Rubin GJ

Publication type: 



Abstract We aimed to describe worry and uptake of behaviours that prevent the spread of infection (respiratory and hand hygiene, distancing) in the UK at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak (January and February 2020) and to investigate factors associated with worry and adopting protective behaviours. Three cross-sectional online surveys of UK adults (28 to 30 January, n = 2016; 3 to 6 February, n = 2002; 10 to 13 February 2020, n = 2006) were conducted. We used logistic regressions to investigate associations between outcome measures (worry, respiratory and hand hygiene behaviour, distancing behaviour) and explanatory variables. 19.8% of participants (95% CI 18.8% to 20.8%) were very or extremely worried about COVID-19. People from minoritized ethnic groups were particularly likely to feel worried. 39.9% of participants (95% CI 37.7% to 42.0%) had completed one or more hand or respiratory hygiene behaviour more than usual in the last seven days. Uptake was associated with greater worry, perceived effectiveness of individual behaviours, self-efficacy for engaging in them, and having heard more information about COVID-19. 13.7% (95% CI 12.2% to 15.2%) had reduced the number of people they had met. This was associated with greater worry, perceived effectiveness, and self-efficacy. At the start of novel infectious disease outbreaks, communications should emphasise perceived effectiveness of behaviours and the ease with which they can be carried out.