A new study has shown that despite having a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, older men are likely to worry less and make fewer behavioural changes in response to the pandemic.
The research published in the Journals of Gerontology administered an online questionnaire assessing COVID-19 perceptions, worries and behavioural changes in the United States.
Participants were a convenience sample of community-dwelling U.S. residents, who were younger (18–35 years) or older (65–81 years) recruited using the Cloud Research panel services.
The study led by Sarah Barber showed that older adults perceived the risks of COVID-19 to be higher than did younger adults during the early phase of the outbreak in the United States.
“Despite this, older men were comparatively less worried about COVID-19 than their younger counterparts. Compared with the other participants, older men had also implemented the fewest behaviour changes,” the researchers say.
“In summary, in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants in this study reported moderate levels of COVID-19 worry and had implemented substantial behaviour changes to reduce COVID-19’s spread.
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“However, compared with the other participants, older men reported relatively less worry and the fewest total number of behaviour changes. This is problematic given that the COVID-19 case fatality rate is also highest among older men and suggests a critical need for COVID-19 behavioural change interventions targeted at older men (for a discussion of motivating self-regulated behavioural change in older adults.
“These results also highlight the importance of understanding emotional responses to COVID-19, and how these may vary across different demographic groups, as worry is related to behavioural responses,” the researchers noted