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Non-Profit Study Outlines Mask, Distancing Compliance
mask study

The Healthcare Consumer Rights Foundation (HCRF), a healthcare consumer-focused non-profit, released a new and compelling study measuring the compliance of Californians to COVID-19 safety measures. The COVID-19 Compliance Scale results are the first in an ongoing study and is intended to be a resource to inform policymakers and the public alike on the public’s attitudes that should be considered when measuring approaches to fighting the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Compliance Scale survey interviewed 800 California adults between July 9 and July 15 and measures 13 indicators of Californians’ compliance with various COVID-19 health and safety recommendations. Each indicator, asked as a question, was scaled as Almost Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Often, and Almost Always.

Reporting on the results, healthcare consumer advocate and HCRF Executive Director Steve Poizner noted, “The COVID-19 Compliance Scale shows that the overwhelming number of respondents consider themselves compliant and claim to Almost Always wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid shaking hands, and wash their hands. Based on this study, Californians believe that they are taking the prescribed actions to slow or stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

SJR Opinion Research, directed by Dr. Val Smith, Ph.D., conducted the new study for HCRF. They used factor analysis methodology to reveal underlying groups of indicators and identify a relationship between similar factors. The factor analysis reduced the 13 indicators to a smaller set of variables that reflect the way the public conceptualizes the problem. The study labels these three concepts: (1) Defensive Behaviors, (2) Mobility, and (3) Government Credibility.

Roughly 90 percent of the adult population claim to practice defensive behaviors, like wearing a mask. They Often or Almost Always adhere to these mandates and recommendations.

“Compliance drops to about 75 percent for the mobility indicators. Roughly one out of four respondents said they Almost Never, Seldom, or only Sometimes comply with desired mobility behaviors. The exception was the behavior of visit public outdoor spaces (e.g., parks, trails, beaches). This indicator was upside down, achieving only 46 percent compliance. All three items forming the third concept of government credibility were upside down, with more respondents stating that they believe government at the federal, state and local levels to lack credibility,” noted Val Smith Ph.D., study director.

The survey also found that the public is divided on returning students to the classroom. One-third of respondents want students to return to the classroom while nearly half resist the idea. Among respondents who are parents, however, nearly half favor returning to the classroom, while 38 percent oppose the idea.

The respondent sample reflects California’s ethnicity, partisanship, age, and gender composition. HCRF is a non-profit foundation that provides free education to help healthcare consumers navigate the complex healthcare system and understand their legal rights and options. One of its missions is to provide consumers up-to-date and useful news, data, and expert analysis of the most urgent and relevant healthcare issues, including COVID-19. For more information about the Foundation, visit their website at Also, you can subscribe to their Fight Back Podcast available on Apple, Google, and other streaming platforms.