Examining self-efficacy and COVID-19 disease prevention behaviors among socially vulnerable populations

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Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

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Social vulnerabilities are associated with higher COVID-19 disease morbidity and mortality. Primary forms of COVID-19 disease prevention aside from vaccination, are health behaviors including masking, hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when one is sick. Understanding the self-efficacy of these behaviors in vulnerable populations can inform health interventions to improve COVID-19 disease outcomes. A repeated cross-sectional study with three waves (Wave 1 = pilot, Wave 2, n = 1258, Wave 3, n = 477) was conducted using an online survey. This analysis only included Wave 2 and Wave 3. The study targeted Yakima County, WA, USA, an area with pronounced social, environmental, and health disparities. Measures included demographic, household, and self-efficacy constructs. Binary logistic regression was used to determine which demographic and household factors were related to constructs of self-efficacy. An independent t-test was performed to determine if there were significant differences between population levels of self-efficacy over time (Wave 2 vs. Wave 3). Household size, identifying as Hispanic/Latino, and measures of socioeconomic status were significantly related to various self-efficacy beliefs about COVID-19 disease prevention behaviors and the ability to protect oneself from COVID-19 disease in general. Self-efficacy increased for each measure between Wave 2 and Wave 3 (p < 0.001). Socially vulnerable groups continue to experience disparate health outcomes in the face of COVID-19 disease. Future studies should examine ways to increase self-efficacy among populations that are experiencing lower levels as self-efficacy is a significant factor related to health outcomes.


This article was originally published in Journal of Community Psychology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Community Psychology


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