The impacts of knowledge, risk perception, emotion and information on citizens’ protective behaviors during the outbreak of COVID-19: a cross-sectional study in China Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Background Individual protective behaviors play an important role in the control of the spread of infectious diseases. This study aimed to investigate the adoption of protective behaviors by Chinese citizens amid the COVID-19 outbreak and its associated factors. Methods An online cross-sectional survey was conducted from 22 January to 14 February 2020 through Wenjuanxing platform, measuring their knowledge, risk perception, negative emotion, response to official communication, and protective behaviors in relation to COVID-19. A total of 3008 people completed the questionnaire, of which 2845 were valid questionnaires. Results On average, 71% of respondents embraced protective behaviors. Those who made no error in the knowledge test (AOR = 1.77, p < 0.001) perceived the high severity of the epidemic (AOR = 1.90, p < 0.001), had high negative emotion (AOR = 1.36, p = 0.005), reported good health (AOR = 1.94, p < 0.001), paid high attention to the governmental media (AOR = 4.16, p < 0.001) and trusted the governmental media (AOR = 1.97, p < 0.001) were more likely to embrace protective behaviors after adjustments for variations in potential confounding factors. Women and older people were also more likely to embrace protective behaviors. No regional or educational differences were found in the adoption of protective behaviors. Conclusion The majority of Chinese citizens embraced protective behaviors. Higher levels of protective behaviors are associated with higher knowledge, perceived severity, negative emotion, and attention to and trust in the official governmental media. Official governmental communication is the largest single predictor of protective behaviors.

publication date

  • December 1, 2020