Chinese Public's engagement in preventive and intervening health behaviors during the early breakout of COVID-19: Cross-sectional study
Background: Since January 2020, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) swept over China and then the world, causing a global public health crisis. People's adoption of preventive and intervening behaviors is critical in curbing the spread of the virus. Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate Chinese people's adoption of health behaviors in responding to COVID-19 and to identify key determinants for their engagement. Methods: An anonymous online questionnaire was distributed in early February 2020 among Mainland Chinese (18 years or older) to examine their engagement in preventive behaviors (eg, frequent handwashing, wearing masks, staying at home) and intervening behaviors (eg, advising family to wash hands frequently), and to explore potential determinants for their adoption of these health behaviors. Results: Out of 2949 participants, 55.3% (n=1629) reported frequent engagement in preventive health behaviors, and over 84% (n=2493) performed at least one intervening health behavior. Greater engagement in preventive behaviors was found among participants who received higher education, were married, reported fewer barriers and greater benefits of engagement, reported greater self-efficacy and emotional support, had greater patient-centered communication before, had a greater media literacy level, and had greater new media and traditional media use for COVID-19 news. Greater engagement in intervening behaviors was observed among participants who were married, had lower income, reported greater benefits of health behaviors, had greater patient-centered communication before, had a lower media literacy level, and had a greater new media and traditional media use for COVID-19 news. Conclusions: Participants' engagement in coronavirus-related preventive and intervening behaviors was overall high, and the associations varied across demographic and psychosocial variables. Hence, customized health interventions that address the determinants for health behaviors are needed to improve people's adherence to coronavirus-related behavior guidelines.