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Reducing touching eyes, nose and mouth (‘T-zone’) to reduce the spread of infectious disease: A prospective study of motivational, volitional and non-reflective predictors

Wilson, Mackenzie; van Allen, Zachary M; Grimshaw, Jeremy M; Brehaut, Jamie C; Durand, Audrey; Lalonde, Jean-François; Manuel, Douglas G; ... Presseau, Justin; + view all (2023) Reducing touching eyes, nose and mouth (‘T-zone’) to reduce the spread of infectious disease: A prospective study of motivational, volitional and non-reflective predictors. British Journal of Health Psychology 10.1111/bjhp.12660. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The route into the body for many pathogens is through the eyes, nose and mouth (i.e., the 'T-zone') via inhalation or fomite-based transfer during face touching. It is important to understand factors that are associated with touching the T-zone to inform preventive strategies. PURPOSE: To identify theory-informed predictors of intention to reduce facial 'T-zone' touching and self-reported 'T-zone' touching. METHODS: We conducted a nationally representative prospective questionnaire study of Canadians. Respondents were randomized to answer questions about touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with a questionnaire assessing 11 factors from an augmented Health Action Process Approach at baseline: intention, outcome expectancies, risk perception, individual severity, self-efficacy, action planning, coping planning, social support, automaticity, goal facilitation and stability of context. At 2-week follow-up, we assessed HAPA-based indicators of self-regulatory activities (awareness of standards, effort, self-monitoring) and self-reported behaviour (primary dependent variable). RESULTS: Of 656 Canadian adults recruited, 569 responded to follow-up (87% response rate). Across all areas of the 'T-zone', outcome expectancy was the strongest predictor of intention to reduce facial 'T-zone' touching, while self-efficacy was a significant predictor for only the eyes and mouth. Automaticity was the strongest predictor of behaviour at the 2-week follow-up. No sociodemographic or psychological factors predicted behaviour, with the exception of self-efficacy, which negatively predicted eye touching. CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that focusing on reflective processes may increase intention to reduce 'T-zone' touching, while reducing actual 'T-zone' touching may require strategies that address the automatic nature of this behaviour.

Type: Article
Title: Reducing touching eyes, nose and mouth (‘T-zone’) to reduce the spread of infectious disease: A prospective study of motivational, volitional and non-reflective predictors
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12660
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12660
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Authors. British Journal of Health Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: COVID-19, T-zone, automaticity, face touching, health action process approach, infection control
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 Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10168063
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