COVID-19: Women take better precautions than men —Study

DESPITE an increase in the COVID-19 awareness campaigns in Nigeria by different groups and the government, having the correct knowledge of COVID-19 was linked to higher involvement in precautionary behaviour for females but not for males, a study has established.

In a new study, researchers found that risk perception mediated the association between COVID-19 knowledge and precautionary behaviour and this indirect effect was moderated by gender.

The web-based cross-sectional study recruited 1,500 Nigerians (with 42.7 per cent females and 57.3 per cent males) from 180 cities. They responded to an online survey form comprising demographic questions and adapted versions of the Ebola knowledge scale, SARS risk perception scale and a precautionary behaviour scale.

The 2020 study had examined whether risk perception determines the association between COVID-19 knowledge and precautionary behaviour among Nigerians, taking into consideration the gender differentials that may exist in the process.

The study involved Rotimi Oguntayo, Department of Psychology, University of Ilorin in conjunction with S.K. Iorfa, I.F.A. Ottu, O. Ayandele, S.O. Kolawole, J.C. Gandi, A.L.Dangiwa and P.O. Olapegba.

Among females, being older in age was related to higher COVID-19 knowledge and higher precautionary behaviour, but not risk perception. For males, being older in age was related to higher COVID-19 knowledge, higher risk perception and higher precautionary behaviour.

Self-isolation was the most strongly agreed upon precautionary behaviour among samples, followed by covering the mouth when sneezing, washing of hands/using hand sanitisers, avoiding crowded places, changing lifestyles, avoiding touching surfaces, and frequent testing. Wearing face masks was the least strongly agreed upon precautionary behaviour among those sampled.

Findings showed that COVID-19 knowledge had a significant influence on precautionary behaviour. Older people and those with underlying diseases took more precautionary measures compared to younger people.

Also, females reported more precautionary behaviour such as washing of hands, using of hand sanitiser, nose masks, cleaning of surfaces, and having plans to, when necessary, visit the hospital or call emergency numbers than males.

According to the researchers, “In line with the findings of our study that greater COVID-19 knowledge predicted greater precautionary behaviour, and coupled with the fact that there are already myths and conspiracy theories surrounding the origin and nature of COVID-19, we recommend massive campaigns aimed at promoting correct knowledge of COVID-19.

In places where such knowledge is already influenced by conspiracy theories, it may be important to reorient the public on the real nature and origin of the disease.”

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