NIH Research Festival
Background: More than half of U.S. adults report having experience with a COVID-19 infection, in either themselves or a household member. Yet, little is known about how these experiences might relate to risk perceptions about COVID-19 infection/reinfection.
Methods: Survey weighted linear regressions were used to examine relationships of risk perceptions with self-reported COVID-19 experiences (personal infection status, household infection status, symptom length, and severity) using data from an online survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (n=5494) in November 2020. Participants reported perceived likelihood of getting COVID-19 (absolute risk and compared to an average person), worry about COVID-19, vulnerability to COVID-19, perceived probability of death from COVID-19, and judgments about the usefulness and ambiguity of mitigation efforts and prevention guidance. Covariates included gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, income, and marital status.
Results: Associations among risk perceptions and personal or household experiences of COVID-19 were complex and varied by risk perception type. Perceived likelihood of COVID-19 was lower for respondents who reported having had COVID-19 (p < 0.001), but higher in people reporting a household member who had had COVID-19 (p = 0.001). Symptom severity and length also related to perceptions. Notably, both were positively associated (p </= 0.008) with worry about getting COVID-19 and feelings of vulnerability to COVID-19.
Conclusions: Different types of risk perceptions are associated with personal and household experience with COVID-19 and with the length and severity of symptoms. Understanding these associations could inform efforts to improve mitigation behaviors for COVID-19 and infectious disease more generally.
Scientific Focus Area: Social and Behavioral Sciences
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