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Frontiers in Psychology




The well-being of the public during the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is deeply rooted in institutional trust in the government’s risk communication effort. The objective of this study was to examine the psychological pathway through which public trust in the government is associated with mental and physical well-being. We collected cross-sectional data from 501 participants aged ≥18 years using an online panel. Public trust in the government was assessed as our exposure variable. We screened for psychological distress by combining the Patient Health Questionnaire and the General Anxiety Disorder scale. Physical well-being was examined using self-rated health. We further assessed the roles of risk perceptions. The author conducted a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), Pearson’s correlations, multivariable regressions, and mediation analyses (using the Preachers and Hayes’ approach). Participants were 55.29% female, 67.86% Caucasian/white with a mean age of 32.44 ± 11.94 years. Public trust in the government regarding COVID-19 was negatively correlated with psychological distress (r = −0.20; p < 0.001) and positively associated with physical well-being (r = 0.13; p < 0.001). After adjusting for sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors, public trust remained negatively associated with psychological distress (β = −0.19; 95% confidence intervals, [CI] −0.30, −0.09) and positively associated with physical well-being (β = 0.26; 95% CI [0.16, −0.37]). Perceived self-efficacy to practice COVID-19 protective behavior partially mediated the relationship between public trust and psychological distress (13.07%); and physical well-being (28.02%). Perceived self-efficacy to protect self against COVID-19 infection can serve as a psychological pathway through which public trust may be associated with mental and physical health.

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.570216


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