METHODS: The observational study (#NCT04367337) enrolled 6064 adults residing in Australia, Canada, China, France, Gambia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, and Switzerland. Data on handwashing adherence across 8 situations (indicated in the WHO guidelines) were collected via an online survey (March-July 2020). Individual-level handwashing data were matched with the date- and country-specific values of the 6 indices of the trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic, obtained from the WHO daily reports.
RESULTS: Multilevel regression models indicated a negative association between both accumulation of the total cases of COVID-19 morbidity (B = -.041, SE = .013, p = .013) and mortality (B = -.036, SE = .014 p = .002) and handwashing. Higher levels of total COVID-related morbidity and mortality were related to lower handwashing adherence. However, increases in recent cases of COVID-19 morbidity (B = .014, SE = .007, p = .035) and mortality (B = .022, SE = .009, p = .015) were associated with higher levels of handwashing adherence. Analyses controlled for participants' COVID-19-related situation (their exposure to information about handwashing, being a healthcare professional), sociodemographic characteristics (gender, age, marital status), and country-level variables (strictness of containment and health policies, human development index). The models explained 14-20% of the variance in handwashing adherence.
CONCLUSIONS: To better explain levels of protective behaviors such as handwashing, future research should account for indicators of the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical Trials.Gov, # NCT04367337.