Satisfaction with governmental risk communication both increases and decreases COVID-19 mitigation behaviours

Darrick Evensen, George Warren, Frederic Bouder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objectives: Over three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and intense societal and governmental response, a wealth of research has examined risk perceptions and public risk mitigation behaviours. The vast majority of this inquiry has focused on health risks. Nevertheless, as a ‘total social fact’ influencing nearly every aspect of quotidian life, the pandemic engenders a wide range of risk perceptions.

Methods: Via a survey (N=4,206) of representative samples of the general public in five European countries (Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK), we explore perceptions of a range of personal/public health, economic, and societal risks. We also investigate the effects of perceptions of official governmental risk communication in one’s country on risk perceptions and risk mitigation behaviours.

Results: Structural equation modelling reveals that whilst perceptions of effective risk communication directly increase behaviours that mitigate COVID-19 health risks, these same perceptions indirectly decrease behaviour frequency via a mediated relationship with societal risk perceptions.

Conclusion: The findings highlight the import of governmental authorities analysing and communicating about the range of risk perceptions citizens might have about a ‘total social fact’ such as COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1604966
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • risk communication
  • risk perception
  • COVID-19 testing
  • social distance
  • Europe
  • structural equation modelling


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