Citizens’ perceptions of ethical issues in covid-19 containment measures: A comparative quantitative study
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Keele University School of Law United Kingdom Marco Clari University of Turin Medical School Italy
University of Turin Medical School Italy
University of Turin School of Philosophy Italy
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
Airlangga University Surabaya Fajar Perdhana Airlangga University Surabaya Indonesia
Airlangga University Surabaya Indonesia
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1663
Background and objective:
COVID-19 has confronted decisionmakers with choices impacting citizens’ fundamental rights. Such impactful decisions tended to be taken following a technocratic logic, being seldom publicly discussed. Our study aims to analyse citizen’s perceptions in four emblematic countries regarding choices on COVID-19 containment and study how different values and contextual factors lead to different moral views.

We circulated a survey to the public in The Netherlands, Italy, Indonesia and Kenya, with questions on their agreement with containment measures, plus the Moral Foundation Theory questionnaire, which aims to explain variations in ethical stances by reference to five dynamics (harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, purity). Proportions were compared using Chi-squared tests and regression analysis was performed to examine links between responses and socio-demographic factors and moral foundations. Data was collected between October 2020 and February 2021.

We collected 1401 responses (The Netherlands: n=336; Italy: n=512; Indonesia: n=359; Kenya: n=194). In Italy and The Netherlands agreement with restriction was similarly high, despite the different approach the two countries had adopted. In Indonesia and Kenya agreement was significantly lower. In all countries except Kenya, participants (would have) endorsed a total lockdown in the first COVID wave. Dutch and Italian participants were less favourable to restrictions to protests than the others. We also found a link between old age and approval for curfew and closures of non-essential businesses, and males appeared more in favour of such measures than females. Agreement with mask mandates and hand washing seemed linked to the moral foundation of purity. Approval of mask mandates seemed linked with fairness

Our study shows that citizens’ opinions on containment measures differ depending on their country, values and background, and provides indications as to what factors need to be taken into account in order to maximise the ethical acceptability of such measures.

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