Role of Trusted Sources and Behavioral Beliefs in Promoting Mitigation Behaviors: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic (Preprint)

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JMIR Publications Inc.


Background: During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in preparation for future public health crises, it is important to understand the relationship between individuals’ health beliefs, including their trust in various sources of health information, and their engagement in mitigation behaviors. Objective: We sought to identify relationships between trust in various sources of health information and the behavioral beliefs related to vaccination and mask wearing as well as to understand how behavioral beliefs related to vaccination differ by willingness to be vaccinated. Methods: We conducted an online survey of 1034 adults in the United States and assessed their trust in federal, local, and media sources of health information; their beliefs about vaccination; and their masking intention and vaccination willingness. Results: Using regression, masking intention was predicted by trust in the World Health Organization (P<.05) and participants’ state public health offices (P<.05), while vaccine willingness was predicted by trust in participants’ own health care providers (P<.05) and pharmaceutical companies (P<.001). Compared to individuals with low willingness to be vaccinated, individuals with high willingness indicated greater endorsement of beliefs that vaccines would support a return to normalcy, are safe, and are a social responsibility (P<.001 for all). Conclusions: Results can be used to inform ongoing public health messaging campaigns to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and increase readiness for the next pandemic. Additionally, results support the need to bolster the public’s trust in health care agencies as well as to enhance trust and respect in health care providers to increase people’s adoption of mitigation behaviors.



behavioral beliefs, health literacy, vaccination, trusted sources, social media, vaccine hesitancy, health information, masking, healthcare, public health, health beliefs


Hanson BL, Finley K, Otto J, Ward NJ Role of Trusted Sources and Behavioral Beliefs in Promoting Mitigation Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Survey Study JMIR Hum Factors 2022;9(3):e37454 doi: 10.2196/37454
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