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Does pre-COVID impulsive behaviour predict adherence to hygiene and social distancing measures in youths following the COVID-19 pandemic onset? Evidence from a South African longitudinal study

Haag, K; Du Toit, S; Mikus, N; Skeen, S; Steventon Roberts, K; Marlow, M; Notholi, V; ... Tomlinson, M; + view all (2023) Does pre-COVID impulsive behaviour predict adherence to hygiene and social distancing measures in youths following the COVID-19 pandemic onset? Evidence from a South African longitudinal study. BMC Public Health , 23 , Article 533. 10.1186/s12889-023-15310-w. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Engagement in protective behaviours relating to the COVID-19 pandemic has been proposed to be key to infection control. This is particularly the case for youths as key drivers of infections. A range of factors influencing adherence have been identified, including impulsivity and risk taking. We assessed the association between pre-COVID impulsivity levels and engagement in preventative measures during the COVID-19 pandemic in a longitudinal South African sample, in order to inform future pandemic planning. METHODS: Data were collected from N = 214 youths (mean age at baseline: M = 17.81 (SD = .71), 55.6% female) living in a South African peri-urban settlement characterised by high poverty and deprivation. Baseline assessments were taken in 2018/19 and the COVID follow-up was conducted in June–October 2020 via remote data collection. Impulsivity was assessed using the Balloon Analogue Task (BART), while hygiene and social distancing behaviours were captured through self-report. Stepwise hierarchical regression analyses were performed to estimate effects of impulsivity on measure adherence. RESULTS: Self-rated engagement in hygiene behaviours was high (67.1–86.1% “most of the time”, except for “coughing/sneezing into one’s elbow” at 33.3%), while engagement in social distancing behaviours varied (22.4–57.8% “most of the time”). Higher impulsivity predicted lower levels of hygiene (β = .14, p = .041) but not social distancing behaviours (β = −.02, p = .82). This association was retained when controlling for a range of demographic and COVID-related factors (β = .14, p = .047) and was slightly reduced when including the effects of a life-skills interventions on hygiene behaviour (β = −.13, p = .073). CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that impulsivity may predict adolescent engagement in hygiene behaviours post COVID-19 pandemic onset in a high risk, sub-Saharan African setting, albeit with a small effect size. For future pandemics, it is important to understand predictors of engagement, particularly in the context of adversity, where adherence may be challenging. Limitations include a small sample size and potential measure shortcomings.

Type: Article
Title: Does pre-COVID impulsive behaviour predict adherence to hygiene and social distancing measures in youths following the COVID-19 pandemic onset? Evidence from a South African longitudinal study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-023-15310-w
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-023-15310-w
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: COVID, Impulsivity, Adolescence, LMIC, Longitudinal
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10167424
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