During a pandemic, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) play an important role in protecting oneself and others from infection. There are large regional differences in COVID-19 infection rates in Japan. We hypothesized that the local infection incidence may affect adherence to individual NPIs.
This cross-sectional study was conducted online among full-time workers in Japan in December 2020. The questionnaire asked the respondents to identify their habits regarding seven common NPIs (wearing masks, washing hands after the bathroom, disinfecting hands when entering indoors, gargling when returning home, ventilating the room, disinfecting or washing hands after touching frequently touched surfaces, carrying alcohol sanitizers when outdoors).
A total of 27 036 participants were analyzed. Compared with the region with the lowest infection rate, five of the seven NPIs showed statistically significant trends across regional infection levels, the two exceptions being wearing masks and washing hands after the bathroom. Multivariate adjustment did not change these trends.
This study found that NPIs were more prevalent in regions with higher incidence rates of COVID-19 in Japanese workers. The findings suggest that the implementation of NPIs was influenced not only by personal attributes but also by contextual effects of the local infection level.