1. Adolescents who perceived COVID-19 as more severe were more likely to engage in news monitoring, social distancing, disinfecting, and hoarding behaviors compared to those viewing it as less severe.
Evidence Rating Level: 3 (Average)
A vast body of literature is being produced on the psychological impacts of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Adolescents, specifically, are less likely to experience severe consequences from COVID-19, yet they may still contribute to its spread and, thus, indirectly affect their behaviors during this time. This self-reported survey recruited a population-based sample of adolescents via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit) and was conducted for two days in March 2020. The survey was comprised of 31 items and approximately 10 minutes in duration, including demographics, COVID-19 experiences, social distancing, disinfecting behaviors, hoarding behaviors, news monitoring, COVID-19 attitudes, and community attachment. A total of 770 adolescents completed the survey (mean [SD] age = 16.3 [1.1] years, 74.7% female). Daily disinfecting (87.8%) and news-monitoring (89.4%) were reported more commonly than pure social distancing (68.6%). Approximately 19.7% reported hoarding behaviors. Greater severity of perceptions of COVID-19 were associated with more news monitoring (β = 0.26, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.33), social distancing (β = 0.18, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.25), disinfecting (β = 0.16, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.23), and hoarding (β = 0.08, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.16). Increased social responsibility was associated with greater news monitoring (β = 0.14, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.22) and disinfecting (β = 0.24, 0.17 to 0.32) but decreased hoarding (β = -0.07, 95% CI -0.14 to -0.01). Greater social trust was associated with less hoarding (β = -0.09, 95% CI -0.16 to -0.02) while higher self-interest values were associated with greater hoarding (β = 0.008, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.15) and less social distancing (β = 0.08, -0.15 to -0.01). Study findings emphasize the importance of portraying public health crises appropriately as the perception of severity drives subsequent behaviours of public safety.
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