Coronavirus Disease Pandemic Response in Uganda: Government Trust, Risk Perception and Willingness to Adhere to Public Health Measures Among Social Media Users
Kalenzi, Prisca U
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Background: The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has greatly affected many nations, and continues to be a global public health challenge. There is progress in responding to the pandemic including universal access to vaccines in most of the developed countries while access to the vaccines in resource limited countries is still limited to only priority groups. Despite the availability of vaccines, promotion of preventive measures through public health risk communication remains essential. Effective risk communication depends on understanding population factors that affect the response. This study assessed government trust, risk perception and willingness to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures among social media users. Methods: This was an online analytical cross-sectional survey in Uganda. Data collection was conducted from 16-27 October 2020 using an online self-administered questionnaire. Data was analyzed using STATA and generalized linear modelling with modified Poisson regression was conducted to determine association between the variables. Results: Of 1,014 respondents, most 69.3% (703) were males, 77.71% (788) had completed tertiary education and 72.3% (733) were salaried employees. Overall trust in government response to COVID-19 pandemic was 40.1%. Most of the respondents 69.9% (n=1008) believed that COVID-19 is extremely likely to spread across the country. However, over a half 65.4% (n=994) perceived little or no risk of getting infected with COVID-19. More than half 53.55% (1014) were willing to receive vaccination against COVID-19 in case it was available. Factors positively associated with trust in government response to COVID-19 included being a student (APR 1.56, CI: 1.14-2.12, p=0.005), being in the 36-59 (APR 1.36, CI: 1.16-1.60, p<0.001) and 60+ (APR 1.98, CI: 1.40-2.28, p<0.001) age groups. Being male was negatively associated with trust in government (APR 0.84, CI: 0.72-0.92, p=0.04). Risk perception was associated with trust in government (APR 1.37 CI: 1.42-1.65, p=0.001). There was high level of willingness to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures among respondents in the 36-59 (APR 1.02, CI: 1.0-1.03, p<0.01) and 60+ (APR 1.03; CI: 1.0-1.04, p<0.01) age groups while low level of willingness was associated with little or no trust in government response to COVID-19 (APR 0.97, CI: 0.95-0.98, P<0.01). Conclusions: The overall trust in government’s response was low. Majority of respondents believed that COVID-19 is extremely likely to spread across the country, but over a half perceived a low risk of getting infected with the virus. Respondents with low trust in government were less willing to adhere to COVID-19 preventive measures. Therefore, there should be interventions designed to improve people’s trust in government, as well as focusing public health risk communication to addressing misconceptions and misinformation about COVID-19 and improving risk perception by clarifying the key vulnerable populations.