Americans' perceptions of disparities in COVID-19 mortality: Results from a nationally-representative survey

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Abstract

As with many other infectious and chronic conditions, the COVID-19 crisis in the United States (U.S.) reveals severe inequities in health. The objective of this study was to describe public perceptions of disparities in mortality from COVID-19 and examine correlates of those perceptions. We fielded a nationally-representative survey in late April 2020, asking participants how much they agreed with four statements describing group-level COVID-19 disparities: older people compared to younger, people with chronic health conditions compared to those without, poorer people compared to wealthier, and Black people compared to white people. We also measured personal characteristics, experience with COVID-19, and information sources. Overall agreement with age- and health condition-related disparities was high (>80%) while agreement with socioeconomic (SES) and racial disparities was lower (52%). Higher education and income were generally associated with greater agreement with disparities. Partisanship and information sources used were associated with perceptions of SES- and racial-disparities, with Democrats and those attune to national news—but not Fox cable news—more likely to perceive these disparities. As of April 2020, information about age- and health condition-related disparities in COVID-19 was well known by the U.S. public, while information about social disparities was less recognized and varied along socioeconomic and partisan lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106278
JournalPreventive medicine
Volume141
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota . Additional support was provided by a grant from the National Cancer Institute ( 1R21CA218054-02 ). This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We thank Mike Schommer and Kate Awsumb from the Minnesota Department of Health for their support of this project.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota. Additional support was provided by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (1R21CA218054-02). This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We thank Mike Schommer and Kate Awsumb from the Minnesota Department of Health for their support of this project.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Health disparities
  • Media
  • Public opinion
  • United States

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