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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving and is a serious public health threat worldwide. Timely and effective control of the pandemic is highly dependent on preventive approaches. Perception of risk is a major determinant of health behavior. The current study explores the association between actual risk and perceived risk for one’s self, family/friends and friends, and community. A questionnaire was administered to participants in Central Appalachia (n = 102). The actual risk was based on the number of chronic conditions of the following conditions: hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Participants were also queried about their perception of risk for COVID-19. Generalized Linear Models were used to independently evaluate the likelihood of perceived risk for one’s: self, family/friends, and community, based on actual risk. Actual risk for COVID-19 was significantly associated with higher likelihood of higher perception of risk for one’s self (b = 0.24; p = 0.04), but not with one’s family/friends (b = 0.05; p = 0.68), or one’s community (b = 0.14; p = 0.16). No health insurance was negatively associated with perception of risk for self (b = −0.59; p = 0.04) and family/friends (b = −0.92; p < 0.001). Male gender (b = −0.47; p = 0.01) was also negatively associated with perception of risk for family/friends. In conclusion, individuals’ actual risk for COVID-19 is associated with their own perception of risk. This indicates that one’s perception of risk for COVID-19 is greater for their own health compared to their family/friends or the community. Therefore, monitoring and following up with chronic disease patients and addressing their lack of awareness of risk to others is needed to prevent and curtail the spread of COVID-19.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.