Adoption of Preventive Behaviour Strategies and Public Perceptions About COVID-19 in Singapore

Document Type : Original Article


Signature Programme in Health Services and Systems Research, Lien Centre for Palliative Care, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, Singapore


The unprecedented severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) constitutes a serious public health concern. However, adoption of COVID-19-related preventive behaviours remain relatively unknown. This study investigated predictors of preventive behaviours.
An analytical sample of 897 Singaporean adults who were quota sampled based on age, gender, and ethnicity were recruited through a web-enabled survey. Outcomes were adoption of, or increased frequency of preventive behaviours (avoiding social events; avoiding public transport; reducing time spent shopping and eating out; wearing a mask in public; avoiding hospitals/clinics; keeping children out of school, washing hands/using sanitisers; keeping surroundings clean; avoiding touching public surfaces; working from/studying at home). Public perceptions regarding COVID-19 (chances of getting COVID-19; perceived likelihood of COVID-19-related intensive care unit (ICU) admission; government trust; self-efficacy; perceived appropriateness of COVID-19 behaviours; response efficacy), anxiety, and demographic characteristics (age; ethnicity; marital status; education; chronic conditions; current living arrangements) were investigated as predictors of preventive behaviours adopted during COVID-19 in binomial and ordered logistic regressions.
Though adoption of preventive behaviours among Singaporeans varied, it was, overall, high, and consistent with government recommendations. Nearly a quarter reported moderate to severe anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder 7-item – GAD-7 scores). Respondents who perceived higher COVID-19 risks, had higher government trust, higher self-efficacy, and perceived that others acted appropriately reported increased adoption/frequency of preventive measures. The strongest indicator of behavioural change was response efficacy. Respondents who were older, highly educated, anxious and married reported higher adoption/frequency of preventive measures.
To successfully influence appropriate preventive behaviours, public health messages should highlight response efficacy, increase self-efficacy, and promote trust in governmental response. Focus should be on demographic segments with low adoptions, such as younger individuals and those with low education.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 09 June 2020
  • Revise Date: 12 August 2020
  • Accept Date: 04 October 2020
  • First Publish Date: 21 October 2020