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      Reflections on trust and COVID-19: do politics, medicine and the environment need each other?

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          Abstract

          This short article is centred on how trust can be a valuable resource for developing cognate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the medical and social sciences. Politics and medicine can learn from each other. Governments need to persuade individuals to adapt their behaviours, and such persuasion will be all the more convincing in that it is nested in social networks. Trust in government requires consistent (benevolent, performative and joined-up) explanations. The distinction between hard medical and soft social science blurs when patients/citizens are required to be active participants in combatting a pandemic virus.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Demographic and attitudinal determinants of protective behaviours during a pandemic: A review

          Purpose. A new strain of H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu was confirmed in the UK in May 2009 and has spread to over 100 countries around the world causing the World Health Organization to declare a global flu pandemic. The primary objectives of this review are to identify the key demographic and attitudinal determinants of three types of protective behaviour during a pandemic: preventive, avoidant, and management of illness behaviours, in order to describe conceptual frameworks in which to better understand these behaviours and to inform future communications and interventions in the current outbreak of swine flu and subsequent influenza pandemics. Methods. Web of Science and PubMed databases were searched for references to papers on severe acute respiratory syndrome, avian influenza/flu, H5N1, swine influenza/flu, H1N1, and pandemics. Forward searching of the identified references was also carried out. In addition, references were gleaned from an expert panel of the Behaviour and Communications sub‐group of the UK Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Group. Papers were included if they reported associations between demographic factors, attitudes, and a behavioural measure (reported, intended, or actual behaviour). Results. Twenty‐six papers were identified that met the study inclusion criteria. The studies were of variable quality and most lacked an explicit theoretical framework. Most were cross‐sectional in design and therefore not predictive over time. The research shows that there are demographic differences in behaviour: being older, female and more educated, or non‐White, is associated with a higher chance of adopting the behaviours. There is evidence that greater levels of perceived susceptibility to and perceived severity of the diseases and greater belief in the effectiveness of recommended behaviours to protect against the disease are important predictors of behaviour. There is also evidence that greater levels of state anxiety and greater trust in authorities are associated with behaviour. Conclusions. The findings from this review can be broadly explained by theories of health behaviour. However, theoretically driven prospective studies are required to further clarify the relationship between demographic factors, attitudes, and behaviour. The findings suggest that intervention studies and communication strategies should focus on particular demographic groups and on raising levels of perceived threat of the pandemic disease and belief in the effectiveness of measures designed to protect against it.
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            Indirect effects of COVID-19 on the environment

            This research aims to show the positive and negative indirect effects of COVID-19 on the environment, particularly in the most affected countries such as China, USA, Italy, and Spain. Our research shows that there is a significant association between contingency measures and improvement in air quality, clean beaches and environmental noise reduction. On the other hand, there are also negative secondary aspects such as the reduction in recycling and the increase in waste, further endangering the contamination of physical spaces (water and land), in addition to air. Global economic activity is expected to return in the coming months in most countries (even if slowly), so decreasing GHG concentrations during a short period is not a sustainable way to clean up our environment.
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              Monitoring the level of government trust, risk perception and intention of the general public to adopt protective measures during the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in the Netherlands

              Background During the course of an influenza pandemic, governments know relatively little about the possibly changing influence of government trust, risk perception, and receipt of information on the public's intention to adopt protective measures or on the acceptance of vaccination. This study aims to identify and describe possible changes in and factors associated with public's intentions during the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in the Netherlands. Methods Sixteen cross-sectional telephone surveys were conducted (N = 8060) between April - November 2009. From these repeated measurements three consecutive periods were categorized based on crucial events during the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. Time trends in government trust, risk perception, intention to adopt protective measures, and the acceptance of vaccination were analysed. Factors associated with an intention to adopt protective measures or vaccination were identified. Results Trust in the government was high, but decreased over time. During the course of the pandemic, perceived vulnerability and an intention to adopt protective measures increased. Trust and vulnerability were associated with an intention to adopt protective measures in general only during period one. Higher levels of intention to receive vaccination were associated with increased government trust, fear/worry, and perceived vulnerability. In periods two and three receipt of information was positively associated with an intention to adopt protective measures. Most respondents wanted to receive information about infection prevention from municipal health services, health care providers, and the media. Conclusions The Dutch response to the H1N1 virus was relatively muted. Higher levels of trust in the government, fear/worry, and perceived vulnerability were all positively related to an intention to accept vaccination. Only fear/worry was positively linked to an intention to adopt protective measures during the entire pandemic. Risk and crisis communication by the government should focus on building and maintaining trust by providing information about preventing infection in close collaboration with municipal health services, health care providers, and the media.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                UCL Open Environ
                UCLOE
                UCL Open Environment
                UCL Open Environ
                UCL Press (UK )
                2632-0886
                27 August 2020
                2020
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
                [2 ]Preventive and Occupational Medicine, University Hospital of Clermont-Ferrand (CHU), Clermont-Ferrand, France
                [3 ]Department of Sport, Physical Education and Health, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
                Author notes
                *Corresponding author: Email: alistaircole@ 123456hkbu.edu.hk
                Article
                10.14324/111.444/ucloe.000010
                © 2020 The Authors.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                References: 14, Pages: 5
                Funding
                The corresponding author acknowledges and is grateful for the financial support of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Research Committee, Initiation Grant – Faculty Niche Research Areas (IG-FNRA) 2019/20.
                Categories
                Open Commentary

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