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Health Behaviors at the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Objectives: We examined perceived behavior change since implementation of physical distancing restrictions and identified modifiable (self-rated health, resilience, depressive symptoms, social support and subjective wellbeing) and non-modifiable (demographics) risk/protective factors. Methods: A representative US sample (N = 362) completed an online survey about potential risk/protective factors and health behaviors prior to the pandemic and after implemented/recommended restrictions. We assessed change in perceived health behaviors prior to and following introduction of COVID-19. We conducted hierarchical linear regression to explore and identify risk/protective factors related to physical activity, diet quality, and social isolation. Results: There have been substantial decreases in physical activity and increases in sedentary behavior and social isolation, but no changes in diet quality since COVID-19. We identified modifiable and non-modifiable factors associated with each health behavior. Conclusions: Negative effects indicate the need for universal intervention to promote health behaviors. Inequalities in health behaviors among vulnerable populations may be exacerbated since COVID-19, suggesting need for targeted invention. Social support may be a mechanism to promote health behaviors. We suggest scaling out effective health behavior interventions with the same intensity in which physical distancing recommendations were implemented.
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Keywords: COVID-19; DIET; PANDEMIC; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; RISK/PROTECTIVE FACTORS; SOCIAL ISOLATION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Raven H. Weaver, Assistant Professor, Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States;, Email: [email protected] 2: Alexandra Jackson, PhD Candidate, Human Development, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, United States 3: Jane Lanigan, Professor, Human Development, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, United States 4: Thomas G. Power, Emeritus Professor, Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States 5: Atlana Anderson, PhD Candidate, Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States 6: Anne E. Cox, Associate Professor, Kinesiology and Educational Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States 7: Linda Eddy, Professor, Nursing, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, United States 8: Louise Parker, Professor, Human Development and Extension Youth and Families Unit, Washington State University, Seattle, WA, United States 9: Yoshie Sano, Associate Professor, Human Development, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, United States 10: Elizabeth Weybright, Associate Professor, Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States

Publication date: January 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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