New study examines link between COVID-related experiences of discrimination and social distancing behaviour

A new study, co-authored by co-holder Vivek Venkatesh, and Cécile Rousseau, associate member, is now available online in The American Journal of Health Promotion. The open-access article, titled COVID-19 Experiences and social distancing: Insights from the theory of planned behaviour, examines how COVID-related attitudes and experiences impact individuals’ social distancing behaviour. Drawing on the results of an online survey of over 3000 adult Quebec residents, the authors analyze how perceptions of COVID-related discrimination and stigma (alongside such factors as fear of infection and prior exposure to the virus) relate to people’s intentions and actions when it comes to social distancing.

The authors contend that COVID-19 prevention efforts should balance campaigns that leverage fear of infection and emphasize social norms with anti-discrimination messaging, so as not to conflate a precautionary approach with a prejudicial one. “Perhaps most importantly,” they write, “our findings are instructive on guiding public health interventions that simultaneously protect people’s lives and develop responses to the epidemic that are inclusive, equitable and universal.”

Photo Credit : American Journal of Health Promotion