Behavioral correlates of COVID-19 worry: Stigma, knowledge, and news source

Gabriella Y. Meltzer, Virginia W. Chang, Sarah A. Lieff, Margaux M. Grivel, Lawrence H. Yang, Don C. Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-adherence to COVID-19 guidelines may be attributable to low levels of worry. This study assessed whether endorsing COVID-19-stigmatizing restrictions, COVID-19 knowledge, and preferred news source were associated with being ‘very worried’ versus ‘not at all’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about contracting COVID-19. Survey data were collected in July–August 2020 from N = 547 New York State (NYS) and N = 504 national Amazon MTurk workers. Respondents who endorsed COVID-19 stigmatizing restrictions (NYS OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.31, 2.92; national OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.06, 3.08) and consumed commercial news (NYS OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.21, 2.96; national OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.24, 3.00) were more likely to be very worried. National respondents who consumed The New York Times (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.00, 2.29) were more likely to be very worried, while those with little knowledge (OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.13, 0.43) were less likely to be very worried. NYS (OR 2.66; 95% CI 1.77, 4.00) and national (OR 3.17; 95% CI 1.95, 5.16) respondents with probable depression were also more likely to be very worried. These characteristics can help identify those requiring intervention to maximize perceived threat to COVID-19 and encourage uptake of protective behaviors while protecting psychological wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1436
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Health Belief Model
  • Knowledge
  • News media
  • Stigma
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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