Attitudes and Psychological Factors Associated With News Monitoring, Social Distancing, Disinfecting, and Hoarding Behaviors Among US Adolescents During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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    Original Investigation
    June 29, 2020

    Attitudes and Psychological Factors Associated With News Monitoring, Social Distancing, Disinfecting, and Hoarding Behaviors Among US Adolescents During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Department of Psychology, Montana State University, Bozeman
    JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(12):1184-1190. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1876
    Key Points

    Question  What are the psychological factors associated with adolescent pandemic-related behaviors during the early stages of the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak in the United States?

    Findings  In this survey study of 770 adolescents, attitudes about the pandemic severity, social responsibility values, social trust, and self-interest were differentially associated with news monitoring, social distancing, disinfecting behaviors, and hoarding behavior.

    Meaning  Emphasizing the severity of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the social implications of pandemic-related behaviors may be important for teens in the United States.

    Abstract

    Importance  As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads across the world, it is critical to understand the psychological factors associated with pandemic-related behaviors. This perspecitve may be especially important to study among adolescents, who are less likely to experience severe symptoms but contribute to the spread of the virus.

    Objective  To examine psychological factors associated with adolescents’ behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This self-reported survey conducted from March 20 to 22, 2020, recruited a population-based sample of adolescents via social media to complete an anonymous survey. Participants were eligible if they had internet access, lived in the United States, and were aged 13 to 18 years.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  Outcomes included COVID-19 news monitoring, social distancing, disinfecting, and hoarding behaviors during the 7 days after the United States declared a national emergency. The psychological factors were attitudes about COVID-19 severity, social responsibility values, social trust, and self-interest. The a priori hypotheses were that greater attitudes about the severity of COVID-19, greater social responsibility, and greater social trust would be associated with greater news monitoring, social distancing, and disinfecting, whereas greater self-interest would be associated with more hoarding.

    Results  The sample included 770 adolescents collected via convenience sampling (mean [SD] age, 16.3 [1.1] years; 575 girls [74.7%]). Many teens reported not engaging in pure social distancing (528 [68.6%]), but they were monitoring the news (688 [89.4%]) and disinfecting daily (676 [87.8%]). Some teens reported hoarding (152 [19.7%]). Attitudes about the greater severity of COVID-19 were associated with more social distancing (β = 0.18; 95% CI = 0.10 to 0.25), disinfecting (β = 0.16; 95% CI = 0.08 to 0.23), and news monitoring (β = 0.26; 95% CI = 0.18 to 0.33) but also more hoarding (β = 0.08; 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.16). Greater social responsibility was associated with more disinfecting (β = 0.24; 95% CI = 0.17 to 0.32) and news monitoring (β = 0.14; 95% CI = 0.07 to 0.22) and less hoarding (β = −0.07; 95% CI = −0.14 to −0.01). Greater self-interest values were associated with less social distancing (β = −0.08; 95% CI = −0.15 to −0.01) and more hoarding (β = 0.08; 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.15). Greater social trust was associated with less hoarding (β = −0.09; 95% CI, −0.16 to −0.02).

    Conclusions and Relevance  The results of this survey study suggest that emphasizing the severity of COVID-19 and the social implications of pandemic-related behaviors may be important for teens, particularly for those who are not following preventive health behaviors or who are engaging in hoarding.

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