Study Analyses Public Perception of Key COVID-19 Control Measures in Spain

Certain sociodemographic factors were associated with a more positive view of government control measures

Photo: Foto: Laura Guerrero/Ajuntament de Barcelona

Spain is among the countries that have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to results obtained using the COVID-SCORE questionnaire and published in October, the Spanish public has a low perception of the central and regional governments’ response to the pandemic. Now, a new study published in the European Journal of Public Health has analysed how public perceptions of key control measures implemented during the first wave of COVID-19 in Spain vary according to individual and sociodemographic variables.

The study is based on a survey conducted in June 2020 among a representative sample of 748 people, who were asked about ten key aspects of the response. The topics covered by the survey questions included socioeconomic support, public health and mental health services, information, communication, and coordination of government control measures. The authors then analysed the responses by gender, age, education level, whether or not the respondent had been affected by COVID-19, and whether or not the respondent trusted their government.

“What we found is that certain individual and sociodemographic characteristics were associated with a more positive or negative perception of certain control measures,” explained ISGlobal researcher Jeffrey Lazarus, coordinator of the study.

People who reported a higher level of trust in government tended to rate the control measures more positively, especially with regard to the information provided, the government’s pandemic preparedness team and access to diagnostic testing. Conversely, having been affected by COVID-19 was associated with a more negative perception of the response, especially in the areas of communication, information, pandemic preparedness and protection of vulnerable groups.

Gender and education level also influenced perceptions of the response, while age was not found to be a significant variable. Men gave lower scores than women in the areas of information, communication and pandemic preparedness, while women gave lower scores than men in the area of mental health. People with a higher level of education had a lower perception of government communication policies than people with a lower level of education.

“Therefore, when facing a public health threat like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to gain the trust of the public and develop and implement more tailored interventions,” added Lazarus. “This could improve the public’s perception of the government’s response and in this article we set out a series of recommendations to improve the situation.”

Reference: TM White, L Cash-Gibson, JM Martin-Moreno, R Matesanz, J Crespo, JL Alfonso-Sanchez, S Villapol, A El-Mohandes, J V Lazarus. COVID-SCORE Spain: Public perceptions of key government COVID-19 control measures. Eur J Public Health. 2021 Apr.