A Preliminary Evaluation of the Public Risk Perception Related to the COVID-19 Health Emergency in Italy

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 27;17(9):3024. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17093024.


Governments faced with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic are adopting strict and severe mitigation measures to influence people's behaviors. Public perception of health risk plays a key role in the adoption of these actions, in people's feelings, and in their daily habits. To support decision makers from international to local levels to face with future sanitary emergencies, this study aims at investigating Italian public perceptions of health risk. To this purpose, a questionnaire was designed and administered within the period of Italian COVID-19 lockdown and quarantine to almost 9000 citizens in Italy and abroad. The obtained results highlight a significative influence that mass media play on both the level of knowledge and the feelings of the respondents. The findings also point out future variations of some perceived behaviors consequent to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; biological hazard; decision-making; risk management; survey.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Consumer Health Information
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology
  • Coronavirus*
  • Decision Making
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Emergencies*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Mass Media*
  • Pandemics
  • Perception
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology
  • Quarantine
  • Risk Management*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult