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BACKGROUND: Latin American countries have been strongly affected by COVID-19. Due to the alarming prevalence of cases, we explored which psychosocial elements may influence poor compliance with mandatory control measures among the population.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to assess the Latin American population's knowledge, attitude, and susceptibility perception during the early coronavirus outbreak.
METHOD: We collected data from 600 self-selected participants through a web-based cross-sectional survey evaluating demographic information. The respondents were between 16 to 77 years old. Most of the participants were female (n= 382), graduated professionals (56.8 %), citizens living in any country in South America (72.2%).
RESULTS: Logistic regression showed that knowledge is highly related with age (p=0.010*), attitude is related with marital status (p=0.017*), perception susceptibility is related with education (p=0.049*), marital status (p=0.001**) and occupation (p=0.001**). Our study identified that people reported adequate knowledge by identifying expected symptoms and the coronavirus transmission process. There is a significant perceived susceptibility to contracting the mentioning virus (57.7%), displaying stigmatized behavior (59.1%), fear of contracting the virus from others (70.2%), and concern regarding serious consequences after the COVID-19 disease (72.3%). Additionally, we found that people distrust the National Health administration's response (61.57%), preparedness for the disease (73.8%), and suggesting insufficient measures to deal with COVID-19 disease (61.3%).
CONCLUSION: Within the framework of government regulations, it is suggested that guidelines be considered to expand strategies and provide reliable knowledge to facilitate positive attitudes towards protection measures against COVID-19. Communication strategies would serve both to contain psychological reactions and the perception of risk of contagion and educational actions to ensure compliance with public control measures among the population.
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