BACKGROUND: COVID-19 threatens health systems worldwide, but Venezuela's system is particularly vulnerable. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, individuals must adopt preventive behaviors. However, to encourage behavior change, we must first understand current knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAPs) that inform response to this health threat.
METHODS: We explored KAPs among Venezuelans using a cross-sectional, internet-based questionnaire. The questionnaire explored individuals' knowledge about COVID-19; their attitudes toward the world's and the Venezuelan authorities' abilities to control it; and their self-reported practices. We also collected demographic data. Binomial logistic regression analyses were used to predict the adoption of preventive behaviors based on demographic variables, individual knowledge level, and individual attitudes.
RESULTS: 3122 individuals completed the questionnaire. Participants had a high level of knowledge about COVID-19. They expressed high levels of optimism that the world would eventually control COVID-19, but they were very pessimistic about the public authorities in Venezuela. Most participants adopted preventive practices. Binomial regression suggests younger people, less educated people, and manual laborers hold lower levels of knowledge, and these groups, as well as men, were less likely to adopt preventive practices. Knowledge, by itself, had no association with optimism and little association with self-reported practices.
CONCLUSIONS: As other KAP studies in Latin America found, knowledge is not sufficient to prompt behavior change. Venezuelans' pessimism about their own country's ability should be explored in greater depth. Health promotion in Venezuela may wish to target the most at risk groups: men, younger people, less educated people, and manual laborers.