The irresistible spread of the COVID-19 epidemic around the whole world and in Ukraine has become an objective threat to the stability and safety, not only personal but also to the established system of the world as a whole. Psychological factors are real determinants and predictors of overcoming the pandemic situation, as they potentially determine both: the preventive behaviour against the spread of coronavirus and the ability of individuals and communities to reorganize the established way of life. Because of unprecedented pandemic of the new coronavirus and the situation of global quarantine, it is important to analyze how people live in this new specific situation, what they do in their daily lives, what is the emotional state and psychological health in general, what is the attitude to the pandemic and quarantine, as well as adhering to preventive behaviour. The study was aimed to highlight behaviour, reasoning and emotional states depending on age and gender, analysis of adhering to preventive behaviour and its psychological factors.
The data were collected from the 3rd to the 30th of April 2020 with the help of Google Forms via the Facebook. The study involved 1,005 people (203 men and 802 women, age 18-76 years). The number of confirmed cases in Ukraine during this time increased from 1,072 to 10,406 people, deaths did from 22 to 261. During the research, the country was in quarantine, announced on March 11 by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. On March 25 it was transferred to the state of emergency until April 24, and then extended until May 22. Mass events were prohibited, educational institutions were closed, it wasn’t allowed to be in public places without masks, people over 60 were in self-isolation; the work of public catering, shopping and entertainment complexes, most shops was prohibited, air, rail and bus passenger services were stopped. Quarantine April exceeded all the most unexpected forecasts.
A special questionnaire was developed for the study. The questionnaire was consisted of seven parts: 1) attitudes to information in the context of epidemic, 2) cognitive beliefs about COVID-19, 3) experience of threat, 4) adhering to preventive behaviour, 5) attitudes to quarantine measures, 6) the features of routine behaviour in quarantine, 7) vision of the future. The used methods were: TIPI S. Gosling (Ukrainian-language version TIPI-UKR (Klimanska & Haletska, 2019), the questionnaire on positive and negative affects (OPANA) (Klimanska & Haletska, 2020), Brief COPE (Carver, 1997).
It was found that all respondents, regardless of age, were very interested in information about various aspects of the epidemic. Only 20,9% of the respondents showed a high level of information avoidance in order to reduce negative feelings. Among the cognitive beliefs about the virus were popular (26,57%) assumptions about its artificial origin, which was combined (r = 0,67, p≤0,001) with the belief that the coronavirus epidemic has been created for economic and political rearrangement of the world (26,27%).
There was a middle level of fear being infected in all age groups. Polar age groups felt less vulnerable (the youngest and the oldest), persons aged 51-60 felt the most vulnerable. Women were more afraid and worried about being infected.
The respondents demonstrated a high level of support for quarantine measures and a belief that it's adhering would help stop the epidemic. Approval of strict quarantine measures and belief in their effectiveness was most characteristic for people under the age of 20 years and in the age 51-60 years, the lowest level of both indicators was found at the age of 31-50 years.
More than 35% of the respondents said that during quarantine they paid attention to those activities for which there had been no time before: to a greater extent it was typical for young people - more than 50% of the respondents. At the same time, 15,22% of people, regardless of age, experienced a great lack of time; 19,9% of the respondents confirmed bulk buying of products and goods. More than 20% of the respondents said that quarantine helped to get their families together, while 5,87% said that conflicts become more often and relations worsened.
The level of risk assessment of economic (73,83%) and political problems (56,71%) in Ukraine was very high and these indicators were strongly correlated (r = 0,57, p≤0,001). Older people showed the highest risk assessment of economic and political threats.
The respondents mostly were adhering to precautions. The most typical behaviour included hand washing and active use of hand sanitizers, regardless of age: 77,41% of the respondents did it constantly. Wearing masks was less popular: 53% of people in the age 31-50 wore a mask almost always, while 23% did so very rarely. Adherence to preventive behaviour was directly related to the recognition of its usefulness information tracking, support of quarantine measures and high assessment of the coronavirus threat. At the same time, there was negative relationship between preventive behaviour and the belief in the artificial origin of the virus as a bio-weapon and the belief that the epidemic was a realization of the idea of political and economic rearrangement of the world. Preventive behaviour directly correlated with the level of fear and anxiety about the coronavirus situation in general. Adherence to the norms of preventive behaviour was more typical for women.
Five types of preventive behaviour were identified with the help of K-means clustering. The representatives of these types had different psychological peculiarities:
Balanced preventive behaviour: a mask is worn quite often and hands are washed and hand sanitizer are used always (24.5%). The representatives of this group show middle level for all characteristics, although there is a high level of anger and nervousness, combined with a high level of tension in relationships and conflicts in the family.
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