Health: If you’ve misled others about waxing, you’re not alone

During the height of the pandemic, 4 in 10 Americans misled others about their COVID-19 status or their adherence to public health measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus, according to a study published recently in JAMA Network Open, a journal of the American Medical Association. association based in Chicago.

The researchers found that about 42 percent of adults admitted to having engaged in some form of misrepresentation related to the presence of COVID-19, vaccination, or adherence to pandemic protocols. The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,700 adults across the country conducted in December, a time when coronavirus cases are rising across the country.

“These data show us that a strategy that relies on people admitting they have symptoms or the actual diagnosis may not be the best strategy in future pandemics,” said Angela Fagerlin, senior author of the study and chair of the department for Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah Health. “The data shows that many people will be dishonest for a variety of reasons.”

She added that researchers were a little surprised at the level of misrepresentation reported “given the seriousness of the situation.”

More than 6.5 million deaths worldwide and just over 1 million in the United States have been attributed to the virus. About 3.77 million people in Illinois have been infected with COVID-19, resulting in more than 35,000 confirmed deaths.

In the survey, about 18 percent of respondents reported that at some point during the pandemic they thought or knew they had COVID-19 but failed to mention it to another person they were or would be with in person. More than 24% reported telling a personal contact that they were taking more precautions against COVID-19 than they actually were.

About 20% of respondents do not mention that they have the virus or think they may have the virus when they are screened to enter a health office.

The researchers note that many of these false claims “may have put others at risk for COVID-19.”

For example, according to the study, a person who does not disclose that they think or know they have COVID-19, “when they enter a clinician’s office, endangers clinicians, office staff, and other patients who may be at risk for severe outcomes from the disease.

About 21% of respondents said they avoided getting tested for COVID-19 when they thought they might be infected. About 8% had told someone they had been vaccinated but had not. Nearly 23% reported breaking quarantine rules; 15% said they told another person they didn’t need to quarantine, even though they had to according to public health guidelines.

“Public health measures have the potential to dramatically reduce the spread and impact of disease, but their success depends on the public’s willingness to be honest and adhere to these measures,” the study said.

The researchers note that following these protocols can be a psychological, financial and physical challenge.

“Given the difficulty and expense associated with many public health measures, members of the public may be dishonest and noncompliant with these measures,” the study said. “For example, people can withhold information about having COVID-19 during a health check-up to allow them to attend their healthcare appointment or continue to go to work. Reporting that one is vaccinated when one is not would allow a person to participate in an event limited to those who are vaccinated, or to avoid judgment from vaccinated friends.”

Survey respondents listed many explanations for their health and safety misstatements. Some said they wanted to feel “normal” again or return to life before the pandemic. Some said they wanted to exercise their freedom or responded that “it’s nobody’s business.”

Many respondents said they follow the advice of a trusted public figure, such as a politician or celebrity. Others said they didn’t believe COVID-19 was real, couldn’t miss work, didn’t feel very sick, or that quarantine rules were confusing, among other reasons cited.

In terms of demographics, respondents under the age of 60 and those who reported greater distrust of science were more likely to have engaged in misrepresentation of COVID-19, according to the study. But the study found no link between fraudulent behavior during the pandemic and respondents’ political beliefs or religion.

“When people are dishonest about their COVID-19 status or what precautions they are taking, it can increase the spread of the disease in their community,” said Andrea Gurmankin Levy, study co-author and professor of social sciences at Middlesex Community College in Connecticut. said in a written statement. “For some people, especially before we had COVID vaccines, it could mean death.”

It’s possible that the study underreported misrepresentation and dishonesty during the pandemic and that the prevalence was actually higher: The study considered the possibility that “participants were dishonest in their survey responses.” But the researchers suggested that respondents would have been more likely to provide answers that were more socially desirable, “thus likely making our results an underestimate of how often people misrepresent or are unattached to this environment,” according to the study .

Craig Klugman, a professor of bioethics at DePaul University, said that “from an ethical standpoint, lying is almost always wrong.”

But he called dishonesty about a person’s COVID-19 status or prevention measures particularly impressive because “a lie can have deadly consequences for other people.”

“Probably some of that lying led to death,” said Klugman, who was not involved in the study. “We’ll never know.”

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