KUWAIT CITY, Sept 15: According to a recent academic study, increased awareness among individuals about the risks of COVID-19 infection prompts them to adhere more to the health instructions related to wearing masks and gloves, maintaining physical distancing, avoiding crowded places, and reducing the number of times they leave their homes, reports Al-Qabas daily. The study on preventive behavior against COVID-19 among the public in Kuwait was recently conducted by a Professor of Sociology in Kuwait University Dr Malik Al-Rasheed on a sample of 679 participants.
The results indicate that the level of confidence in the government during the early months of the COVID-19 crisis and during the period of data collection (March-April) was high for the vast majority in Kuwait, due to the degree of data transparency and the government’s actions in dealing with the pandemic.
The study demonstrated the strong correlation between individuals’ feeling of confidence in the government and their intention to adhere to the instructions, procedures and behaviors for protection and prevention. According to the study, citizens have a sense of responsibility, as well as a spirit of cooperation and commitment to everything that would preserve their safety and the safety of others around them.
The researcher collected the study data during the first two months of the outbreak of the pandemic in Kuwait, when public morale was high. However, with the continuation of the outbreak, increase in the number of infected cases and deaths, conflicting official messages from the government, instability in the application of preventive measures, and longer curfew hours and isolation, people began to express lesser confidence and satisfaction with the government performance via all means of communication. Also, there was a greater tendency to challenge many of the preventive behavioral recommendations and brag about violating them.
The study showed that individuals who believe there are gains from not adhering to behavioral health instructions, such as using sterilization materials and personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, or gains in feeling happy to break the lockdown for communicating with friends and family, are less committed to protective behaviors and indulge in challenging safety instructions and social responsibility.
The study stated that individuals’ sense of possessing the adequate amount of information and having the competence and skills to protect themselves and others from infection was associated with a higher commitment to prevention behaviors. On the other hand, the results showed that individuals’ belief in the feasibility and effectiveness of the recommended personal protection procedures and behaviors was a factor affecting their commitment to those procedures, and doubts over their effectiveness drove individuals to ignore them.
The study concluded with recommendations, the most prominent of which is the need for future governmental plans and policies to address any similar health crises in the future, and focus on increasing awareness and sensitization of public opinion.
This can be achieved by developing appropriate scientific knowledge related to the risk of infection, and improving the effectiveness of response and self-efficacy of preventive behavior for citizens by providing skills training programs and forming social, psychological and cognitive support groups. Intensification of activities and opportunities that make social or physical distancing and home isolation during crises more likely and productive was also recommended.
The study stressed the need to focus on building and maintaining trust between the government and the people by providing all information, risks, repercussions and intervention plans related to COVID-19, in close cooperation with officials, healthcare service providers and the official media.
The study explained that trust in the government is necessary to consolidate social cohesion among the components of the society, because it affects the ability of governments to govern, and enables them to act effectively without having to resort to coercive means. It is therefore an effective way to reduce transaction costs in any social, economic and political relationship between the authority and individuals. Moreover, the high level of confidence in the government may lead to an increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations, as citizens would believe in their usefulness.