Italian researchers recently determined that women tended to view the Covid-19 pandemic as a more serious problem than men, and were also more inclined to endorse and abide by the protocols in place.
“The biggest differences between men and women were in the behaviors used above all to protect others”
The initial public health response to the coronavirus required fundamental changes in individual behavior, including social distancing or wearing a mask. If the effectiveness of these measures obviously depends on the will of individuals to comply with them, the latter is conditioned by the level of culture and beliefs concerning the pandemic and the virus, the type of communication used, as well as the gender , according to this new study published in the journal PNAS.
Conducted between March and April 2020 by a team of researchers from theBocconi University, in Italy, the survey involved more than 21,000 participants fromAustralia, ofAustria, of France, ofGermany, ofItaly, of New Zealand, United States and UK. The main objective of their work was to study the gender differences in beliefs and behaviors related to the pandemic of Covid-19, and the results obtained revealed significant disparities.
It turned out that women were more likely than men to consider the pandemic of Covid-19 as a very serious health problem (59% vs. 48%) and also more inclined to approve of the public health policies put in place, such as social distancing (54% vs. 47%).
” The biggest differences between men and women were in behaviors that primarily protect others, such as coughing into your elbow, as opposed to those that also protect yourself. “, has explained Paola Profeta, co-author of the study.
Disparities highlighting the need for differentiated communication
Researchers also found that women were more likely to follow guidelines regarding the pandemic (88% vs. 83%), especially in its early stages. While this rate tended to decline over time, for both men and women, the gender gap still persisted. What turned out to be particularly visible in Germany, where the rate fell from 85.8% for women and 81.5% for men in March to 70.5% and 63.7% respectively in April.
Smaller gaps were seen for married couples living together and being more likely to share similar views and values, and the team found that the disparities between men and women also decreased over time when they these were exposed to the same flow of information regarding the pandemic.
” Policymakers who promote a new normal involving restricted mobility, wearing of face masks and other behavioral changes should therefore offer gender-differentiated communication in order to push more men to comply. », Estimated Vincenzo Galasso, co-author of the study.
These differences in the response to the epidemic of Covid-19 could also help explain why countries led by women seem to be managing the health crisis better overall. Of previous works having shown in particular thatGermany (Angela Merkel), Taiwan (Tsai Ing-wen) or the New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern) had on average recorded a number of deaths 50% lower.