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Uncertainty Stress, and Its Impact on Disease Fear and Prevention Behavior during the COVID-19 Epidemic in China: A Panel Study

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Objectives: We examined changing trends of uncertainty stress, and its impact on disease fear and prevention behaviors during the Chinese COVID-19 epidemic, using a prospective observational study. Methods: We employed a longitudinal design. We recruited participants for an online panel survey from chat groups on social media platforms. There were 5 waves of interviews. Information on uncertainty stress and related variables were collected via the online survey. Descriptive statistics and the GIM program were used for data analysis. Results: Participants numbered 150 for the linkable baseline survey and 102 (68%) for the final survey. Uncertainty stress (β = -.047, SE = .118, p > .05) did not show a statistically significant temporal change trend over the observation period. Disease fear manifested a statistically significant downwards trend (β = -.342, SE = .157, p < .05), and prevention behaviors indicated an upwards trend (β = .048, SE = .021, p < .05) during the observation period. Uncertainty stress was positively associated with disease fear (β = .45046, SE = .05964, p < .001), and negatively associated with self-efficacy (β = -.6698, SE = .01035, p < .001), and prevention behaviors (β = -.02029, SE = .00876, p =.021). Conclusion: This study yielded new information about uncertainty stress among Chinese people during the COVID-19 epidemic. Policy changes and public education are essential for minimizing the negative effects of uncertainty stress in disease prevention.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sihui Peng, Lecturer, Basic Medicine and Public Health College, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China 2: Xiaozhao Yousef Yang, Associated Professor, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China 3: Tingzhong Yang, Center for Tobacco Control Research, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China;, Email: [email protected] 4: Weifang Zhang, Researcher, Stomatology Hospital, Zhejiang University, School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China 5: Randall R. Cottrell, Professor (Retired), Public Health Program, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC, United States;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2021

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  • 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.

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