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Efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 within the United States have been compromised by varying levels of engagement in preventive behaviors, such as mask wearing, social distancing and vaccine uptake. The purpose of this study was to evaluate potential predictors of both (1) engagement in behaviors aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 and (2) intention to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It was hypothesized that Health Belief Model (HBM) constructs would predict each outcome. Additionally, given the politicization of the pandemic in the US, HBM constructs were considered as possible mediators of a relationship between political party affiliation and each outcome. A total of 205 participants completed an online survey, and data from 186 were analyzed using linear and ordinal regressions. Findings indicate that greater perceived response efficacy predicted greater engagement in preventive behaviors and intention to get vaccinated. Other HBM constructs were not significant predictors of either outcome. Mediation analyses indicated that affiliation with the Republican Party predicted reduced engagement in preventive health behaviors and vaccination intention, although effects were fully and partially mediated by lower levels of response efficacy. Understanding the predictors of adherence to recommended strategies is essential to developing effective public health campaigns that address risk factors for non-adherence and target those least likely to adhere. Public health interventions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the US should emphasize the efficacy of preventive behaviors and encourage public trust in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, particularly among Republicans.


Carolyn Rabin, Sunny Dutra. Predicting engagement in behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19: the roles of the health belief model and political party affiliation. Psychology, health & medicine. 2022 Feb;27(2):379-388

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PMID: 33906540

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