Study to look at COVID pandemic perceptions

Image courtesy the Georgia Dept. of Public Health.

POTSDAM — After Kelly Bonnar, donning a mask to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, was approached by a man without a mask in a store this spring, the interaction inspired a new SUNY Potsdam public health study.

“He came within two feet of me and told me, ‘Trump doesn’t think you need that mask,’ and walked away,” Ms. Bonnar said. “I was with my 5-year-old. It was scary, but I absolutely know there is a lot of confusion. With this study, I’m trying to flesh it out and perhaps do some community-wide education about that.”

Through the SUNY Potsdam Department of Public Health and Human Performance, Bonnar, an associate professor, is exploring beliefs about the threat of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

With information collected through an online questionnaire, the study, “Health Beliefs as Predictors of Adherence to COVID Protective Behaviors,” will examine three key components of pandemic life.

Respondents will be asked about information consumption — which media and social media channels are used to take in COVID-19 information — their perception of the danger posed by the virus and the methods they are using to stay safe.

“I am really interested in finding out how beliefs about COVID are influencing whether or not people are engaging in protective behaviors, and then what barriers they may be encountering,” Bonnar said. “I’m also looking at how the beliefs are related to media consumption and how the behaviors are linked to general health status and home safety. My hope is that we can use this information to encourage more protective behaviors.”

The voluntary survey takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, and responses and records will be kept confidential by the research team. Those interested can find the online survey on SUNY Potsdam’s website.

Questions about the study can be directed to Bonnar at 315-267-3188, or, or the SUNY Potsdam Institutional Review Board at 315-267-2688, or

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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