Psychological Responses to the COVID-19 Outbreak are Related to Trust in Public Institutions: Implications for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases
Emerging pathogens, especially those related to infectious diseases require behavior change as well as engaging the population in participating in healthy behaviors. Psychological responses are thus of vital importance to disease prevention. While the stress of a pandemic has been associated to many psychological symptoms, these symptoms have not been systematically explored in a broader sociopolitical context. Psychological responses may be linked to the perceptions of health professionals and may also relate to trust in public institutions. As such, psychopathology is not only a consequence of stress associated with pandemics but rather, the result of an interplay of personal and sociopolitical contexts. This study showed that members of the general population are experiencing significant symptoms of psychological distress. Regression analyses showed that psychological distress was associated with negative attitudes towards healthcare professionals as well as distrust in public health authorities. This study is relevant because a lack of trust in health officials may impact the degree to which the population adheres to public health guidelines to prevent and manage COVID-19.
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