Perceptions, risk and understandings of the COVID-19 pandemic in urban South Africa

South African Journal of Psychiatry

Field Value
Title Perceptions, risk and understandings of the COVID-19 pandemic in urban South Africa
Creator Kim, Andrew W. Burgess, Raquel Chiwandire, Nicola Kwinda, Zwannda Tsai, Alexander Norris, Shane Mendenhall, Emily
Subject Public Health; Behavioral Sciences; Psychiatry; Anthropology COVID-19; perceptions; risk; knowledge; South Africa
Description Background: How people perceive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and understand their risk can influence their health, behaviours and overall livelihood. The disease’s novelty and severity have elicited a range of attitudes and perspectives countrywide, which consequently influence the public’s adherence to public health prevention and treatment guidelines.Aim: To investigate perceptions, experiences and knowledge on COVID-19 in a community-based cohort study.Setting: Adults living in Soweto in South Africa’s Gauteng province during the first six weeks of the national lockdown regulations (i.e. Alert Level 5 lockdown from end of March to beginning of May 2020).Methods: Participants completed a series of surveys and answered open-ended questions through telephonic interviews (n = 391). We queried their perceptions of the origins of COVID-19, understandings of the disease, personal and communal risks and its relations with the existing disease burden.Results: Findings from our sample of 391 adults show that perceptions and knowledge of COVID-19 vary across several demographic characteristics. We report moderate levels of understanding about COVID-19, prevention methods and risk, as well as exposure to major physical, psychosocial and financial stressors. Depressive symptoms, perceived infection risk and concern about COVID-19 significantly predicted COVID-19 prevention knowledge.Conclusion: Public health communication campaigns should focus on continuing to improve knowledge and reduce misinformation associated with the virus. Policymakers should consider the mental health- and non-health-related impact of the pandemic on their citizens in order to curb the pandemic in a manner that maximises well-being.
Publisher AOSIS
Contributor National Institutes of Health Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit South African Medical Council University of the Witwatersrand Georgetown University
Date 2021-06-28
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — Survey research; qualitative research
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v27i0.1580
Source South African Journal of Psychiatry; Vol 27 (2021); 10 pages 2078-6786 1608-9685
Language eng
Coverage Soweto 2019-2020 Black South Africa adults aged 25-79; community based sample
Rights Copyright (c) 2021 Andrew W. Kim, Raquel Burgess, Nicola Chiwandire, Zwannda Kwinda, Alexander C. Tsai, Shane A. Norris, Emily Mendenhall