Although health behavior theories indicate that fear is effective in activating preventive behaviors, the question of whether COVID-19 severity moderates the association between fear of COVID-19 and preventive behaviors remains unclear. The present study investigated the association between the fear of COVID-19 and preventive behaviors during the COVID-19 community outbreak of two severity levels in Taiwan. Data were obtained regarding the fear of COVID-19 and practice of preventive behaviors from 139 older people (mean age = 71.73 years; 30.2% men) through in-person interviews during a mild COVID-19 outbreak period (baseline assessment). Data from 126 of the 139 participants were obtained again through a telephone interview during a severe COVID-19 outbreak period (follow-up assessment). A significant increase in the fear of COVID-19 (d = 0.39, p < 0.001) and a decrease in preventive behaviors (d = 0.63, p < 0.001) were found in the follow-up assessment. The association between fear of COVID-19 and preventive behaviors was not significant at baseline (r = −0.07, p > 0.05) but became significant at the follow-up assessment (r = 0.32, p < 0.001). The severity of a COVID-19 outbreak may alter older people's psychological status and related behaviors.
- psychological distress
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