Scientific misinformation and mistrust of COVID-19 preventive measures among the UK population: a pilot study

Alessandro Siani, Imogen Green

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Abstract

The popularisation of complex biomedical concepts brought about by COVID-19 has led to the rapid proliferation and diffusion of scientific misinformation, particularly among individuals with inadequate levels of scientific and digital literacy. A cross-sectional online survey of a UK population sample was conducted to address three key aims: to verify whether there is a correlation between participants’ belief in false information around COVID-19 and adherence to preventive measures; to investigate whether participants’ scientific misinformation and preventive behaviour are associated with their demographic characteristics; and to evaluate whether participants’ scientific misinformation and preventive behaviour can predict their likelihood of having contracted COVID-19. Non-parametric data analysis highlighted a strong negative correlation between participants’ belief in misinformation and their trust in preventive measures. Both variables were significantly associated with participants’ education levels, but not with their religious beliefs. Remarkably, neither science misinformation levels nor the trust in preventive measures were statistically associated with the likelihood of having contracted COVID-19. Taken together, these findings reinforce the urgency of ensuring that the population is equipped with adequate scientific literacy to enable them to evaluate the reliability of scientific information and recognise the importance of individual preventive behaviours to minimise community spread of infectious diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number301
Number of pages10
JournalVaccines
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • scientific misinformation
  • preventive measures
  • fake news
  • survey
  • vaccines
  • social distancing
  • face masks

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