Who is Better at Following Coronavirus Safety Precautions, Men or Women?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests following the safety precautions including wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and social distancing as the only ways to stop the spread of coronavirus. According to a new study by Yale University and New York University, women are better than men in following these coronavirus safety precautions.

The research teams surveyed 800 people by using smartphone movement analysis and street observations. They said that men are less likely than women to say that they stayed at home, met less with friends and family, followed social distancing, and washed hands regularly. The only factor at which there was no difference between men and women was the frequency of meeting with people who were other than family or friends.

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According to the study published in the journal Behavioral Science and Policy women are not only better at taking coronavirus safety precautions but that they were also more likely to heed the advice given to them by the experts. However, self-reports cannot always be trusted so in several different locations in the US including New Haven, Connecticut, and New Brunswick, New York City, and New Jersey the researchers looked at people walking the streets to observe it first hand that how many people do actually wear masks. The researchers observed 173 men and 127 women and discovered that around 38% of men and 55% of women properly wore face masks or face shields.

To observe the population of the US in more detail the researchers tracked the movement of individuals and them visiting unessential places like fitness facilities, florists, and spas by using GPS data from the smartphones of nearly 15 million US people. It was found by the results that counties in which males were in higher percentages followed less social distancing.

According to the researchers, the discoveries made by this research were not surprising as it’s a long-known fact that women are better at handwashing than men. A review conducted in 2016 that observed researches from different countries discovered that men were 50% less likely than women to adhere to safety behavior like wearing masks, cleaning of surfaces, and handwashing in order to protect themselves from an epidemic.

A researcher at the New York University and lead author of the paper Irmak Olcaysoy Okten said that a study conducted before the coronavirus pandemic confirmed that women were more likely to follow the recommendation of doctors and also visit them more regularly in their day to day basis than men. She added that women are also more attentive to other people’s health-related needs. So Okten believes it is not surprising that women are better at following the coronavirus safety precautions and also in stopping the spread of the virus than men.

Okten believes that an effective strategy to combat the spread of the coronavirus could be the deliverance of health messages that are finely tuned to target men. Moreover, the researchers wrote in the study that policymakers should try to target the illusions of invincibility that men have and also make men remind that they have responsibilities towards other people and towards themselves in these difficult times. They added that an effective strategy could be to distribute prevention messages in non-essential places where men gather frequently.