Understanding of COVID-19 high among Chinese workers, study finds

Understanding workers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding COVID-19 is crucial to preventing it and controlling it. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases report that Chinese workers are highly aware of, and informed about, COVID-19 but there is still a need for strengthening this knowledge, and health interventions, among older and less-educated workers.

The importance of public education and community engagement in outbreak responses is well established. Previous studies have indicated that surveys on knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) have helped inform many outbreak responses. The vast majority of studies on COVID-19 have focused on the disease’s etiology, clinical characteristics, and therapies or vaccines.

In the new work, Chen Mao of Southern Medical University, China, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study based at a large labor-intensive factory in Shenzhen, China, which has 180,000 factory workers from around China. Between February 2 and 7, 2020, all workers were invited to participate in an online survey that asked about sociodemographic characteristics, and KAP related to COVID-19.

Data from 123,768 respondents was included in the final analysis. The mean knowledge score regarding COVID-19 was 16.3 points out of a total possible score of 20 points. Most respondents understood basic information about the symptoms, knew preventive measures for the disease, agreed that COVID-19 is a serious disease, and knew where and how to seek treatment. However the researchers also found common misperceptions, such as only 29.4% of respondents disagreed with the statement that gargling salt water can protect against infection. Overall, older respondents had lower levels of knowledge and practices related COVID-19 and better-educated respondents tended to have the highest levels of KAP.

“These results suggested that health authorities need to ensure correct information on COVID-19 prevention and strengthen health interventions, particularly for older and less-educated workers, to combat rumors and misinformation and reduce public panic,” the researchers say.

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