Background: Public perceptions and personal characteristics are heterogeneous between countries and subgroups, which may have different impacts on health-protective behaviors during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To assess whether self-reported perceptions of COVID-19 and personal characteristics are associated with protective behaviors among general adults and to compare patterns in six different countries. Methods: This cross-sectional study uses the secondary data collected through an online survey between 15 and 23 April 2020 across six countries (China, Italy, Japan, Korea, the UK, and the USA). A total of 5945 adults aged 18 years or older were eligible for our analysis. A logistic regression model was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) of three recommended behaviors (wearing a mask, handwashing, and avoiding social gatherings). Results: In most countries except for China, the participants who perceived wearing a mask as being extremely effective to curtail the pandemic were more likely to wear a mask (OR, 95%CI: Italy: 4.14, 2.08–8.02; Japan: 3.59, 1.75–7.30; Korea: 7.89, 1.91–31.63: UK: 9.23, 5.14–17.31; USA: 4.81, 2.61–8.92). Those who perceived that handwashing was extremely effective had higher ORs of this preventive behavior (OR, 95%CI: Italy: 16.39, 3.56–70.18; Japan: 12.24, 4.03–37.35; Korea: 12.41, 2.02–76.39; UK: 18.04, 2.60–152.78; USA: 10.56, 2.21–44.32). The participants who perceived avoiding social gathering as being extremely effective to curtail the pandemic were more likely to take this type of preventive behavior (OR, 95%CI: China: 3.79, 1.28–10.23; Korea: 6.18, 1.77–20.60; UK: 4.45, 1.63–11.63; USA: 4.34, 1.84–9.95). The associations between personal characteristics, living environment, psychological status, and preventive behaviors varied across different countries. Individuals who changed their behavior because of recommendations from doctors/public health officials were more likely to take preventive behaviors in many countries. Conclusions: These findings suggest that higher perceived effectiveness may be a common factor to encourage preventive behaviors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These results may provide a better understanding of the homogeneity and heterogeneity of factors related to preventive behaviors and improve public health policies in various countries and groups.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health