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Non-compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures among young adults in Switzerland: Insights from a longitudinal cohort study


Nivette, Amy; Ribeaud, Denis; Murray, Aja L; Steinhoff, Annekatrin; Bechtiger, Laura; Hepp, Urs; Shanahan, Lilly; Eisner, Manuel (2021). Non-compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures among young adults in Switzerland: Insights from a longitudinal cohort study. Social Science & Medicine, 268:113370.

Abstract

Rationale: Adolescents and young adults were identified internationally as a group with potentially low compliance rates with public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Although non-compliance research during pandemics has typically focused on concurrent correlates, less is known about how prior social and psychological risk factors are associated with non-compliance during pandemics.
Objective: This paper leverages a prospective-longitudinal cohort study with data before and during the pandemic to describe patterns of non-compliance with COVID- 19 related public health measures in young adults and to identify which characteristics increase the risk of non-compliance.
Methods: Data came from an ongoing cohort study in Zurich, Switzerland (n=737). Non-compliance with public health measures and concurrent correlates were measured at age 22. Antecedent sociodemographic, social, and psychological factors were measured at ages 15-20. Young adults generally complied with COVID-19 public health measures, although non-compliance with some measures (e.g., cleaning/disinfecting mobile phones, standing 1.5-2 meters apart) was relatively higher.
Results: Non-compliance, especially with hygiene-related measures, was more prevalent in males, and in individuals with higher education, higher SES, and a nonmigrant background. Non-compliance was higher in young adults who had previously scored high on indicators of "antisocial potential," including low acceptance of moral rules, pre-pandemic legal cynicism, low shame/guilt, low self-control, engagement in delinquent behaviors, and association with delinquent peers. Young adults with low trust, including in the government's measures for fighting the virus, also complied less.
Conclusions: In order to increase voluntary compliance with COVID-19 measures, public health campaigns should implement strategies that foster moral obligation and trust in authorities, or leverage trustworthy individuals in the community to disseminate information. For young adults with low self-control, self-monitoring, environmental restructuring, or nudging may increase compliance. Long-term investments into integrating youth with antisocial potential into society may decrease rule-breaking behaviors, including during pandemics when compliance saves lives.

Abstract

Rationale: Adolescents and young adults were identified internationally as a group with potentially low compliance rates with public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Although non-compliance research during pandemics has typically focused on concurrent correlates, less is known about how prior social and psychological risk factors are associated with non-compliance during pandemics.
Objective: This paper leverages a prospective-longitudinal cohort study with data before and during the pandemic to describe patterns of non-compliance with COVID- 19 related public health measures in young adults and to identify which characteristics increase the risk of non-compliance.
Methods: Data came from an ongoing cohort study in Zurich, Switzerland (n=737). Non-compliance with public health measures and concurrent correlates were measured at age 22. Antecedent sociodemographic, social, and psychological factors were measured at ages 15-20. Young adults generally complied with COVID-19 public health measures, although non-compliance with some measures (e.g., cleaning/disinfecting mobile phones, standing 1.5-2 meters apart) was relatively higher.
Results: Non-compliance, especially with hygiene-related measures, was more prevalent in males, and in individuals with higher education, higher SES, and a nonmigrant background. Non-compliance was higher in young adults who had previously scored high on indicators of "antisocial potential," including low acceptance of moral rules, pre-pandemic legal cynicism, low shame/guilt, low self-control, engagement in delinquent behaviors, and association with delinquent peers. Young adults with low trust, including in the government's measures for fighting the virus, also complied less.
Conclusions: In order to increase voluntary compliance with COVID-19 measures, public health campaigns should implement strategies that foster moral obligation and trust in authorities, or leverage trustworthy individuals in the community to disseminate information. For young adults with low self-control, self-monitoring, environmental restructuring, or nudging may increase compliance. Long-term investments into integrating youth with antisocial potential into society may decrease rule-breaking behaviors, including during pandemics when compliance saves lives.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:History and Philosophy of Science, Health(social science)
Language:English
Date:1 January 2021
Deposited On:27 Oct 2020 16:58
Last Modified:22 Jan 2021 16:06
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0277-9536
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113370
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10FI14_170409
  • : Project TitleThe Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood: Phase V
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10FI14_170409
  • : Project TitleThe Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood: Phase V

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