Knowledge, practice and associated factors towards the prevention of COVID-19 among high-risk groups: A cross-sectional study in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

PLoS One. 2021 Mar 11;16(3):e0248420. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248420. eCollection 2021.


Background: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable virus that continues to disrupt livelihoods, particularly those of low-income segments of society, around the world. In Ethiopia, more specifically in the capital city of Addis Ababa, a sudden increase in the number of confirmed positive cases in high-risk groups of the community has been observed over the last few weeks of the first case. Therefore, this study aims to assess knowledge, practice and associated factors that can contribute to the prevention of COVID-19 among high-risk groups in Addis Ababa.

Methods: A cross-sectional in person survey (n = 6007) was conducted from 14-30 April, 2020 following a prioritization within high-risk groups in Addis Ababa. The study area targeted bus stations, public transport drivers, air transport infrastructure, health facilities, public and private pharmacies, hotels, government-owned and private banks, telecom centers, trade centers, orphanages, elderly centers, prison, prisons and selected slum areas where the people live in a crowded areas. A questionnaire comprised of four sections (demographics, knowledge, practice and reported symptoms) was used for data collection. The outcomes (knowledge on the transmission and prevention of COVID-19 and practice) were measured using four items. A multi variable logistic regression was applied with adjustment for potential confounding.

Results: About half (48%, 95% CI: 46-49) of the study participants had poor knowledge on the transmission mode of COVID-19 whereas six out of ten (60%, 95% CI: 58-61) had good knowledge on prevention methods for COVID-19. The practice of preventive measures towards COVID-19 was found to be low (49%, 95% CI: 48-50). Factors that influence knowledge on COVID-19 transmission mechanisms were female gender, older age, occupation (health care and grocery worker), lower income and the use of the 8335 free call centre. Older age, occupation (being a health worker), middle income, experience of respiratory illness and religion were significantly associated with being knowledgeable about the prevention methods for COVID-19. The study found that occupation, religion, income, knowledge on the transmission and prevention of COVID-19 were associated with the practice of precautionary measures towards COVID-19.

Conclusion: The study highlighted that there was moderate knowledge about transmission modes and prevention mechanisms. Similarly, there was moderate practice of measures that contribute towards the prevention of COVID-19 among these priority and high-risk communities of Addis Ababa. There is an urgent need to fill the knowledge gap in terms of transmission mode and prevention methods of COVID-19 to improve prevention practices and control the spread of COVID-19. Use of female public figures and religious leaders could support the effort towards the increase in awareness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Communicable Disease Control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Facilities
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty Areas
  • Prisons
  • Public Facilities
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • Transportation
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.