Lin C, Imani V, Majd NR, Ghasemi Z, Griffiths MD, Hamilton K, Hagger MS, Pakpour AH
Br J Health Psychol 25 (4) 981-1005 [2020-11-00; online 2020-08-11]
Rates of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections have rapidly increased worldwide and reached pandemic proportions. A suite of preventive behaviours have been recommended to minimize risk of COVID-19 infection in the general population. The present study utilized an integrated social cognition model to explain COVID-19 preventive behaviours in a sample from the Iranian general population. The study adopted a three-wave prospective correlational design. Members of the general public (N = 1,718, M age = 33.34, SD = 15.77, male = 796, female = 922) agreed to participate in the study. Participants completed self-report measures of demographic characteristics, intention, attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control, and action self-efficacy at an initial data collection occasion. One week later, participants completed self-report measures of maintenance self-efficacy, action planning and coping planning, and, a further week later, measures of COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Hypothesized relationships among social cognition constructs and COVID-19 preventive behaviours according to the proposed integrated model were estimated using structural equation modelling. The proposed model fitted the data well according to multiple goodness-of-fit criteria. All proposed relationships among model constructs were statistically significant. The social cognition constructs with the largest effects on COVID-19 preventive behaviours were coping planning (β = .575, p < .001) and action planning (β = .267, p < .001). Current findings may inform the development of behavioural interventions in health care contexts by identifying intervention targets. In particular, findings suggest targeting change in coping planning and action planning may be most effective in promoting participation in COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? Curbing COVID-19 infections globally is vital to reduce severe cases and deaths in at-risk groups. Preventive behaviours like handwashing and social distancing can stem contagion of the coronavirus. Identifying modifiable correlates of COVID-19 preventive behaviours is needed to inform intervention. What does this study add? An integrated model identified predictors of COVID-19 preventive behaviours in Iranian residents. Prominent predictors were intentions, planning, self-efficacy, and perceived behavioural control. Findings provide insight into potentially modifiable constructs that interventions can target. Research should examine if targeting these factors lead to changes in COVID-19 behaviours over time.