Mental health and conspiracy theories in the general population of Latvia during the COVID-19 emergency state

Baiba Rezgale, Jeļena Vrubļevska, Anna Šibalova, Ilana Aleskere, Elmārs Rancāns

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

A wave of conspiracy believers has emerged in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. The purpose of this study was to characterize an individual who believes in conspiracy theories, to discover whether believing in such theories is associated with mental health and complying with the government’s implicated restrictions. Data was collected as an online survey in a randomized stratified sample for three weeks in July 2020 as a part of the National Research Program. Precisely selected and segmented database corresponding to the general population of Latvia was used. Non-parametric tests to compare medians (Kruskal-Wallis test) as well as Spearman correlation to measure the strength of relationship were used. The weighted study sample consisted of 2608 participants. Positive correlation was detected between age and belief in conspiracies among females (r=0.061; p=0.017). Median conspiracy theory points were higher in female subjects (p<0.001) who more often resided in a town (p<0.001) as opposed to occupying the capital or the countryside. Those who were divorced (or estranged) (p=0.022) in contrast with being single or in a relationship. Along with those being unemployed (p<0.001) compared to the employed, retired individuals or students. As well as mainly having primary or high school education (p<0.001) rather than higher education. Depressive respondents more often than healthy respondents believed that COVID-19 was created in laboratory (p<0.05), that COVID-19 is a result of 5G antenna (p<0.05) and that COVID-19 is a sign of divine power to destroy our planet (p=0.001). Since conspiratorial thinking was unequivocally associated with low level of education, the important messages conveyed to the public should be reviewed so that they are more relatable and comprehensible. In addition, more attention should be paid to critical thinking in education programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages188
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
EventRSU Research week 2021: Knowledge for Use in Practice - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 24 Mar 202126 Mar 2021
https://rw2021.rsu.lv/conferences/knowledge-use-practice

Conference

ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: Knowledge for Use in Practice
Abbreviated titleRW2021
Country/TerritoryLatvia
CityRīga
Period24/03/2126/03/21
Internet address

Field of Science

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)

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