Belief in Conspiracy Theory about COVID-19 Predicts Mental Health and Well-being: A Study of Healthcare Staff in Ecuador.

Xi Chen, Stephen X Zhang, Asghar Afshar Jahanshahi, Aldo Alvarez-Risco, Huiyang Dai, Jizhen Li, Verónica García Ibarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Contribution to Journal)


BACKGROUND Social media are becoming hotbeds of conspiracy theories, which aim to give resolute explanations on the cause of COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, no research has investigated whether individuals' belief in conspiracy theory about COVID-19 is associated with mental health and well-being issues. This association enables an assessable channel to identify and reach people with mental health and well-being issues during the pandemic. OBJECTIVE We aim to provide the first evidence of belief in conspiracy theory regarding the COVID-19 virus as a predictor of the mental health and well-being of healthcare workers. METHODS We conducted a survey of 252 healthcare workers in Ecuador from April 10 to May 2, 2020. We analyzed the data of distress and anxiety caseness with logistic regression and life and job satisfaction with linear regression. RESULTS Among the sampled healthcare workers in Ecuador, 24.2% believed that the virus was developed intentionally in a lab; 32.54% experienced distress disorder, and 28.17% had anxiety disorder. Compared to healthcare workers who were not sure where the virus originated, those who believed the virus was developed intentionally in a lab were more likely to have distress disorder and anxiety disorder and had lower levels of job satisfaction and life satisfaction. CONCLUSIONS This paper identifies belief in a COVID-19 conspiracy theory as an important predictor of distress, anxiety, and job and life satisfaction of healthcare workers. It enables mental health services to better target and help mentally vulnerable healthcare workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. CLINICALTRIAL
Original languageSpanish (Peru)
JournalJMIR public health and surveillance
StatePublished - 10 Jul 2020

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