Perceived vulnerability to disease, knowledge about COVID-19, and changes in preventive behavior during lockdown in a German convenience sample

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has called worldwide for strong governmental measures to contain its spread, associated with considerable psychological distress. This study aimed at screening a convenience sample in Germany during lockdown for perceived vulnerability to disease, knowledge about COVID-19, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and behavioral responses. In an online survey, 1358 participants completed the perceived vulnerability to disease scale (PVD), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4), and questionnaires on knowledge about COVID-19 and self-perceived change in behaviors in response to COVID-19. Lower and upper quartiles of the PVD were used to classify individuals into low and high PVD. A confirmatory factor analysis supported three factors representing risk, preventive and adaptive behavior as behavioral responses to COVID-19 lockdown. A structural equation model showed that the score of the knowledge scale significantly predicted the self-reported increase in adaptive and preventive behavior. The score in the PVD-subscale Perceived Infectability predicted a self-reported increase in preventive behavior, whereas the Germ Aversion score predicted a self-reported increase in preventive and a decrease in risk behavior. The score in PHQ-4 predicted a higher score in the perceived infectability and germ aversion subscales, and a self-reported decrease in adaptive behavior. Low-, medium- and high-PVD groups reported distinct patterns of behavior, knowledge, and mental health symptoms. This study shows that perceived vulnerability to disease is closely linked to preventive behaviors and may enhance adaptation to COVID-19 pandemic.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Author:Ulrich StangierORCiDGND, Schahryar KananianORCiDGND, Johanna SchüllerORCiD
Parent Title (English):Current psychology
Place of publication:New York, NY
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/02/26
Date of first Publication:2021/02/26
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/10/24
Tag:COVID-19 pandemic; Fear of infection; Germ aversion; Preventive behavior; Risk behavior
Issue:online version before inclusion in an issue
Page Number:9
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.
Early View: Online Version before inclusion in an issue.
Version of Record: [URN-Link]
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0