Mechanisms behind COVID-19 scepticism among socially marginalised individuals in Europe

Kristi Nero (Corresponding Author), Kati Orru, Tor Olav Nævestad, Alexandra Olson, Merja Airola, Lucia Savadori, Austeja Kazemekaityte, Gabriella Lovasz, Jelena Kajganovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Homeless and materially disadvantaged people are considered particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. So far, there is no systematic knowledge about how the homeless and materially disadvantaged people perceive the risks of COVID-19 and what factors influence the development of sceptical views and underestimation of dangers posed by the virus. The aim of our study is therefore to: (1) Explore COVID-19 risk perception of socially marginalised individuals, focusing on their assessment of the probability of getting infected by the virus and the perceived harmful consequences of the disease; and (2) examine the factors influencing COVID-19 risk beliefs of these individuals. We use cross-sectional survey data with 273 participants from eight countries and data from 32 interviews and five workshops with managers and staff of social care organisations in ten European countries. Our results indicate that among survey participants, 49% can be labelled COVID-19 sceptics with regard to probability of getting infected, and 38% with regard to harmful consequences of the disease. We find that COVID-19 scepticism is related to low levels of all types of social capital, low trust in information from authorities and being a minority. However, the most important predictor is the respondents’ general lack of concern about health risks. Additionally, the qualitative data indicates the multifaceted nature of COVID-19 scepticism, as it may relate to the origins of COVID-19, the probability of infection, its consequences and protective measures, among others. Improved understanding about factors influencing COVID-19 scepticism in these groups contributes to a better understanding of the information disorder during crises, and the ways in which this could be managed through policies against marginalisation, including in disaster risk reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-696
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • marginalised individuals
  • misinformation
  • Risk perception
  • social capital
  • social vulnerability

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