Conspiracy Theories as Barriers to Controlling the Spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. [open pdf - 588KB]
From the Abstract: "'Rationale': The COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic poses extraordinary challenges to public health. 'Objective': Because the novel coronavirus is highly contagious, the widespread use of preventive measures such as masking, physical distancing, and eventually vaccination is needed to bring it under control. We hypothesized that accepting conspiracy theories that were circulating in mainstream and social media early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the US would be negatively related to the uptake of preventive behaviors and also of vaccination when a vaccine becomes available. 'Method': A national probability survey of US adults (N = 1050) was conducted in the latter half of March 2020 and a follow-up with 840 of the same individuals in July 2020. The surveys assessed adoption of preventive measures recommended by public health authorities, vaccination intentions, conspiracy beliefs, perceptions of threat, belief about the safety of vaccines, political ideology, and media exposure patterns. [...] 'Conclusions': Because belief in COVID-related conspiracy theories predicts resistance to both preventive behaviors and future vaccination for the virus, it will be critical to confront both conspiracy theories and vaccination misinformation to prevent further spread of the virus in the US. Reducing those barriers will require continued messaging by public health authorities on mainstream media and in particular on politically conservative outlets that have supported COVID-related conspiracy theories."
2020 The Author(s). Posted here with permission. Document is under a Creative Commons license and requires proper attribution and noncommercial use to be shared: [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/]
Social Science & Medicine (October 2020), v.263