Professionally and financially insecure workers are less likely to take measures to reduce the risk of contagion from Covid-19, such as physical distancing, limiting travel from their homes and washing their hands, according to one Washington State University study. (UNITED STATES). The researchers, who surveyed 745 workers in 43 states, also found that people receiving state unemployment benefits and COVID-19 policies affected the link between economic concerns and adherence to COVID-19 precautions.
“We all have a limited set of resources at our disposal, be it money, time or social support, and people with fewer of these resources seem less able to implement the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ”said Tahira Probst, professor of psychology at WSU.
As the lead author of the study, published in the “ Journal of Applied Psychology, ” noted, “having a backhand, a strong safety net to catch up with, seemed to help mitigate risk factors for job insecurity that was otherwise associated with less adherence to guidelines. In states with lower unemployment benefits, job insecurity was associated with a 7% drop in compliance with preventive behaviors against COVID-19.
State-imposed health and prevention measures also had a positive effect on compliance, but appeared to primarily benefit financially secure workers. In states that had fewer behavioral restrictions that could spread the disease, workers were less likely to follow CDC recommendations, whether respondents were financially secure or in danger.
However, in states where the response is stronger, including measures such as home support requests and non-essential business closures, financially stable employees have 13% more follow-up for prevention behaviors than non-essential employees. non-essential employees. workers who felt more financially insecure.
These differences could have important ramifications for public health, the authors say, as research suggests that even modest reductions in social contact between adults can reduce infection rates and eventual deaths. “It is important to recognize as a society that there are certain segments of the population, namely the financially secure, who are best equipped to follow the CDC’s recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is a red flag because Precarious work and financial stress can also coexist with other risk factors for COVID-19 and pre-existing health disparities, ”explains the researcher.
Researchers recruited survey participants using Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online crowdsourcing platform. The authors acknowledge that the demographics for this sample were more male, 62% and more college graduates, 68%, than the general US population, which is about 50% males and 35% college graduates. .
However, use of the platform allowed researchers to investigate groups of workers representing most states in the U.S. Data for this study was collected in April, a month after the World Organization for Health will officially declare the pandemic on March 11. Probst and his colleagues continue to follow this survey group every one to two months to collect a total of seven waves of survey data. Researchers are looking to see if disparities related to economic stress and protective behaviors translate to higher rates of COVID-19 infection.