Background: To assess the level of knowledge and trust in the policy decisions taken regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic among Epirus Health Study (EHS) participants.
Methods: The EHS is an ongoing and deeply-phenotyped prospective cohort study that has recruited 667 participants in northwest Greece until August 31st, 2020. Level of knowledge on coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) transmission and COVID-19 severity was labeled as poor, moderate or good. Variables assessing knowledge and beliefs towards the pandemic were summarized overall and by sex, age group (25-39, 40-49, 50-59, ≥60 years) and period of report (before the lifting of lockdown measures in Greece: March 30th to May 3rd, and two post-lockdown time periods: May 4th to June 31st, July 1st to August 31st). A hypothesis generating exposure-wide association analysis was conducted to evaluate the associations between 153 agnostically-selected explanatory variables and participants' knowledge. Correction for multiple comparisons was applied using a false discovery rate (FDR) threshold of 5%.
Results: A total of 563 participants (49 years mean age; 60% women) had available information on the standard EHS questionnaire, the clinical and biochemical measurements, and the COVID-19-related questionnaire. Percentages of poor, moderate and good knowledge status regarding COVID-19 were 4.5, 10.0 and 85.6%, respectively. The majority of participants showed absolute or moderate trust in the Greek health authorities for the management of the epidemic (90.1%), as well as in the Greek Government (84.7%) and the official national sources of information (87.4%). Trust in the authorities was weaker in younger participants and those who joined the study after the lifting of lockdown measures (p-value≤0.001). None of the factors examined was associated with participants' level of knowledge after correction for multiple testing.
Conclusions: High level of knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic and trust in the Greek authorities was observed, possibly due to the plethora of good quality publicly available information and the timely management of the pandemic at its early stages in Greece. Information campaigns for the COVID-19 pandemic should be encouraged even after the lifting of lockdown measures to increase public awareness.
Keywords: COVID-19; Cohort study; Epirus health study; Exposure-wide association analysis; Knowledge; Trust in authorities.