Non-adherence to COVID-19 lockdown: who are they? A cross-sectional study in Portugal

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Objectives: The SARS-CoV-2 virus has spread worldwide, leading governments to implement mitigation measures. Understanding the reluctance to adhere to non-pharmacological interventions might help promote adherence to these measures. This study aimed to identify factors associated with non-adherence to the first lockdown in Portugal. Study design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: This study used data from a Portuguese community-based survey entitled ‘COVID-19 Barometer: Social Opinion’. Data were collected on risk perception, health status and social experiences using a snowball sampling technique. The event of interest corresponded to participants who reported not staying home during the lockdown period, serving as a proxy for non-adherence to lockdown. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with non-adherence to the first lockdown. Results: Responses from 133,601 individual questionnaires that were completed during the first week of the first lockdown in 2020 were analysed. A minority of participants (5.6%) reported non-adherence to lockdown (i.e. leaving home for reasons other than essential situations). Working in the workplace was the factor with the strongest association of non-adherence to the lockdown. Several other factors were also associated with non-adherence to the first lockdown; namely, being a man, being a student, having a low level of education, having a low income, living alone or with a high-infection-risk professional (e.g. doctor, nurse, pharmaceutical, health technician, firefighter, police officer, military, essential services worker), perceiving the risk of getting COVID-19 to be high, not having social support in case of infection, feeling agitated, sad or anxious every day, and considering the preventive measures to be unimportant or inadequate. Conclusions: Non-adherence to lockdown was associated with socio-economic, trust and perception factors. Future research should investigate the mechanisms underlying these associations to help identify the population groups who are most at risk of non-adherence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Adherence
  • COVID-19
  • Lockdown
  • Non-pharmacological interventions
  • Prevention


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