A nationwide survey reveals that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40% of Americans were lying about whether they had the virus or were ignoring safety procedures.
In the 1,700-person study conducted in December, 721 respondents were found to have either lied about their COVID status or disregarded public health advice.
People disregarded quarantine regulations, pretended to have taken more precautions than they had, and failed to disclose whether they had COVID when they entered a doctor’s office. The poll found that they also lied about their vaccination status, either by saying they were immunised when they weren’t or that they weren’t when they had received the shot.
The desire to feel normal or to exercise personal freedom were the most frequent justifications for the lack of transparency.
According to co-author Andrea Gurmankin Levy, a professor of social sciences at Middlesex Community College in Connecticut, “COVID-19 safety measures can undoubtedly be demanding, but they work.”
The survey raises questions, according to co-author Angela Fagerlin, director of population health sciences at University of Utah Health, about how refusal to be honest about health status and adherence to masking, social seclusion, and public health measures could prolong the pandemic and spread infectious diseases.
Fagerlin stated in a University of Utah news release that “some people may assume if they lie about their COVID-19 status once or twice, it’s not a huge problem.” But if, as our data indicates, almost half of us engage in it, that poses a serious issue that prolongs the pandemic.
The reasons given by respondents for their deceit varied. They were following the advise of a public figure or celebrity; they didn’t believe COVID was genuine or a major deal; they couldn’t miss work or stay home; they didn’t feel sick; it was no one else’s concern; and finally, they didn’t feel sick.
Levy stated in the statement that “those who are dishonest about their COVID-19 status or what precautions they are taking, can exacerbate the spread of disease in their community.” “That can spell death for certain people, especially before we had COVID immunizations.”
All age groups under 60 and people who distrust science more were more likely to engage in deception. About 60% of those surveyed claimed to have consulted a physician for COVID-19 prevention or treatment.
The study found no connection between misrepresentation and political opinions, party membership, or religious affiliation.
According to Fagerlin, this study had a much larger sample size and included questions about a wider range of activities than earlier research on the subject had.
The findings may understate how frequently people were dishonest about their health status, according to the researchers, who acknowledged that they could not tell whether respondents had answered honestly.
According to co-author Alistair Thorpe, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Utah Health, “this study goes a long way toward showing us what concerns people have about the public health measures implemented in response to the pandemic and how likely they are to be honest in the face of a global crisis.” Knowing it will enable us to properly prepare for the upcoming global epidemic.
The research results were released on October 10 in JAMA Network Open.
For additional information about COVID-19, see the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: Oct. 10, 2022 news release from University of Utah Health