Psychological factors responsible for low adherence to mask-wearing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic

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KILIÇ C., Yiidiz M. I., Emekli E., GÜLŞEN G., ALP A.

BJPsych Open, vol.8, no.6, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1192/bjo.2022.603
  • Journal Name: BJPsych Open
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Psycinfo, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Phobias, epidemiology, anxiety disorders, COVID-19, face masks
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Copyright © 2022 The Author(s).Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to >6 million deaths. Anti-mask movements may decrease the effects of preventive measures. Psychological factors that may be related to anti-mask behaviour are not well researched. Aims This study aims to determine the psychological correlates of anti-mask attitudes and behaviour in an online general population sample, focusing on the possible role of claustrophobia. Method Data on attitudes and behaviour toward mask-wearing were collected from an online sample of 3709 people. Predictors of both anti-mask attitudes and behaviour were assessed with linear and logistic regression analyses. Results: Few people (3.3%) were overtly opposed to mask-wearing; mask opposition was more common in men than women. Predictors of negative attitude toward mask-wearing and low adherence to mask-related measures were similar and included male gender, lower education, lower income, being employed, having had COVID-19 and lower COVID-19-related anxiety. Psychopathology measures did not show a prediction, whereas claustrophobia had a significant prediction that was over and above those of other predictors. Avoidance behaviour had similar predictors, except for higher COVID-19-related anxiety. Conclusions: Although low adherence to mask-wearing during the pandemic was not related to having a mental disorder, it may partly be caused by psychological factors. Those who had a negative attitude also reported lower adherence behaviour, and were characterised by being male, having lower education, being employed and having lower COVID-19-related anxiety; claustrophobia was a strong predictor of attitude. Understanding psychological factors responsible for low adherence may help to decrease morbidity and mortality in future pandemics.