Following the COVID19 playbook and battling another infodemic: Conspiracy beliefs around human Monkeypox among the Lebanese population
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Ministry of Public Health, Beirut, Lebanon
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A230
Introduction: The non-endemic multicountry outbreak of monkeypox (MPX) has emphasized the issue of conspiracy theories that go viral in times of societal crisis.  Given the adverse consequences of conspiracy beliefs, this study aimed to assess the extent of endorsement of MPX conspiracy beliefs among the Lebanese population and to identify its associated factors. Methods: Using a convenience sampling technique, a web-based cross-sectional was conducted among Lebanese adults. Data was collected using an Arabic self-reported questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify the factors associated with the MPX conspiracy beliefs scale. Results: Conspiracy beliefs regarding emerging viruses including MPX were detected among 59.1% of Lebanese adults. Participants endorsed particularly the conspiracy theories linking the virus to a deliberate attempt to reduce the size of the global population (59.6%), gain political control (56.6%) or pharmaceutical companies financial gain (39.3%), and the manmade origin of MPX (47.5%). Remarkably, the majority of surveyed adults exhibited a negative attitude toward the governments preparedness for a potential MPX outbreak. However, a positive attitude was revealed toward the effectiveness of precautionary measures (69.6%). Female participants and those having a good health status were less likely to exhibit a higher level of conspiracy beliefs. Divorced or widowed adults, those having a low economic situation, poor knowledge level, and negative attitude toward the government and precautionary measures were more prone to disclose a higher level of conspiracy beliefs. Notably, participants relying on social media to get information about MPX were also more likely to have a higher level of conspiracy beliefs compared to their counterparts. Conclusions: The widespread extent of conspiracy beliefs endorsement regarding MPX among the Lebanese population urged the policymakers to find ways to reduce people’s reliance on these theories. Future studies exploring the harmful impacts of conspiracy beliefs on health behaviors are recommended.
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