Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0002-3193-3933

Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Ike Okosun PhD, MS, MPH, FACE

Second Advisor

Collins Airhihenbuwa PHD, MPH

Third Advisor

Chinedu Egbuonu MD, MPH

Abstract

UNDERSTANDING THE DEMOGRAPHICS, BEHAVIORS, ATTITUDES, AND THE PERCEIVED BARRIERS THAT IMPEDE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH MITIGATION MEASURES AMONG RESIDENTS OF METRO ATLANTA.

By

Yomi Bello

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The novel COVID-19 is responsible for enormous medical costs, lost earnings, diminished economy, and thousands of deaths in the United States. Face mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing habits are effective prevention methods for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 virus infection. However, despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) recommendations in favor of the above non-pharmacological methods, many people are hesitant to adhere to COVID-19 virus infection mitigations guidelines.

AIM: This study aims to describe the characteristics, attitudes, behaviors, and perceived barriers of American adults in adhering to face mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing habits for mitigating COVID-19 infection.

METHODS: Forty-four Metro Atlanta area participants completed a questionnaire that was administered using survey monkey. All study participants (≥18 years of age) consented to study participation. Basic statistics, including means and frequencies, were used to describe attitudes, behaviors, and barriers associated with face mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing habits for mitigating COVID-19 infection.

RESULTS: A total of 44 respondents (65.9% female, 34.1% male) aged between 19 and 81 years consented to participate in the study. Almost all participants (97.7%) practiced social distancing; 95.5% practiced handwashing, while all participants wore face masks. Out of the total, 29.5% and 65.9% agreed or strongly agreed that mask-wearing is vital in protecting against COVID-19 infection. In contrast, only 4.5% strongly disagreed that mask-wearing is essential for the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. About 73.5% of the black participants agreed/strongly agreed that wearing a face mask is crucial in mitigating COVID-19 infection compared to 60.0% of white participants. All conservatives agreed/strongly agreed that wearing face mask is for the public good. Out of the 20 who considered themselves politically liberal, 95.0% (19/20) agreed/strongly agreed that wearing a face mask is for the public good. All participants in the independent category strongly agreed that wearing a face mask is for the public good. Regarding perceptions of face mask-wearing, 43.2% of study participants felt uncomfortable, 52.3% agree/strongly agreed it makes hearing difficult, while 6.8% describe face masks as unappealing.

DISCUSSION: This study suggests the need for strong public health messages to avoid misunderstanding regarding COVID-19. Public health messages should be tailored to specific at-risk groups. Framing good public health messaging may reduce adverse attitudes, behaviors, and barriers associated with COVID-19, including vaccination hesitancy in at-risk US populations.

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