40% of Americans not honest about COVID-19, use of precautions, survey says

Nearly half of U.S. adults reported misrepresentation and/or nonadherence regarding public health measures against COVID-19.

Four in 10 Americans surveyed report that they were less than truthful about whether they had COVID-19 and/or failed to comply with preventive measures during the height of the pandemic, according to a new nationwide study published Oct. 10 in JAMA Network Open

The most common reasons were wanting to feel normal and exercising personal freedom.

The survey gathered data from 1,733 participants. Based on a list of nine behaviors, 721 participants, or 41.6 percent, reported misrepresentation or nonadherence to public health recommendations. Some of the most common incidents included: 

  • Breaking quarantine rules.
  • Telling someone they were with, or were about to see, that they were taking more COVID-19 precautions than they actually were.
  • Not mentioning that they might have had or knew they had COVID-19 when entering a doctor's office.
  • Telling someone they were vaccinated when they weren't.
  • Saying they weren't vaccinated when they actually were.

"This study goes a long way toward showing us what concerns people have about the public health measures implemented in response to the pandemic and how likely they are to be honest in the face of a global crisis. Knowing that will help us better prepare for the next wave of worldwide illness," Alistair Thorpe, PhD, co-author of the study and a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah Health said in an Oct. 10 news release.

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