Risk perception related to COVID-19 among the Iranian general population: An application of the extended parallel process model
Background: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has emerged as a major global public health challenge. This study aimed to investigate on how people perceive the COVID-19 outbreak using the components of the Extended Parallel Process Model (EPPM) and to find out how this might contribute to possible behavioral responses to the prevention and control of the disease.Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in Iran during March and April 2020. Participants were recruited via
... ne applications using a number of platforms such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and Instagram asking people to take part in the study. To collect data an electronic self-designed questionnaire based on the EPPM was used in order to measure the risk perception (efficacy, defensive responses, perceived treat) related to the COVID-19. Descriptive statistics, chi-square, t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA), were used to explore the data.Results: A total of 3,727 individuals with a mean age (SD) of 37.0 (11.1) years participated in the study. The results revealed significant differences in efficacy, defensive responses and perceived treat among different population groups particularly among those aged 60 and over. Women had significantly higher scores than men on some aspects such as self-efficacy, reactance, and avoidance but men had higher perceived susceptibility scores compared to women. Overall 56.4% of participants were engaged in danger control (preventive behavior) while the remaining 43.6% were engaged in fear control (non-preventive behavior) process.Conclusion: More than half of all participants motivated by danger control. This indicated that more than half of participants had high perceived efficacy (i.e., self-efficacy and response efficacy). Self-efficacy scores were significantly higher among participants who were older, female, single, lived in rural areas, and had good economic status. The results suggest that socioeconomic and demographic factors are the main determinants of the COVID-19 risk perception. Indeed, targeted interventions are essential for controlling the pandemic.