Cognitive Factors Associated With Public Acceptance of COVID-19 Nonpharmaceutical Prevention Measures: Cross-sectional Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



JMIRx med








COVID-19; Extended Parallel Process Model; France; Likert scale; lockdown; nonpharmaceutical measures; public acceptance


Background: During the COVID-19 crisis, protests against restrictions emerged and rule violations increased, provoking peaks in new positive cases, forcing authorities in France to impose fines to slow down the spread of the disease. Due to these challenges, subsequent implementations of preventive measures in response to COVID-19 recurrences or other pandemics could present difficulties for decision makers. A better understanding of the factors underlying the public acceptance of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical preventive measures may therefore contribute greatly to the design of more effective public communication during future pandemics. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the acceptance of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical prevention measures in France. The specific objectives were (1) to examine the public's acceptance of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical prevention measures and (2) to assess the association of the public's acceptance of these prevention measures and their perception of COVID-19. Methods: Data were collected from 2004 individuals through an online survey conducted 6-8 weeks after the first lockdown in France. For objective 1, participants were asked the extent to which they supported 8 COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical preventive measures using a 4-point Likert scale. For objective 2, COVID-19-related perceptions were assessed using a 5-point Likert scale from an adapted version of Witte's Extended Parallel Process Model. Sociodemographic and environmental variables were also collected. The public's acceptance factors were estimated using an unweighted least squares factorial analysis, and their associations with perceptions of COVID-19, expressed as rate ratios (RR) and 95% CIs, were estimated using generalized linear Poisson regression models. Statistical analyses were performed using the SPSS statistical package. Results: The acceptance rate reached 86.1% for individual protective measures, such as making masks mandatory in public open spaces, and 70.0% for collective restrictions, such as isolating the most vulnerable people (1604/2004, 80%) or forbidding public gatherings (n=1590, 79.3%). The least popular restrictions were closing all schools/universities and nonessential commerce such as bars and restaurants (n=1146, 57.2%). Acceptance of collective restrictions was positively associated with their perceived efficacy (RR 1.02, 95% CI 1.01-1.03), fear of COVID-19 (RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.03-1.05), and perceived severity of COVID-19 (RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.03-1.06), and negatively with age >60 years (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.81-0.98). Acceptance of individual protective measures was associated with their perceived efficacy (RR 1.03, 95% CI 1.03-1.04), fear of COVID-19 (RR 1.02, 1.01-1.03), and perceived severity of COVID-19 (RR 1.03, 1.01-1.05). Conclusions: Acceptance rates of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical measures were rather high, but varied according to their perceived social cost, and were more related to collective than personal protection. Nonpharmaceutical measures that minimize social costs while controlling the spread of the disease are more likely to be accepted during pandemics.


Prevention and Community Health