Increasing compliance with existing restrictions could stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the expert says

The responses of 9,500 people in 11 countries in an EU-funded study gave researchers an insight into how governments should act to stop the spread of the virus.

“Applying a combination of many constraints has the opposite effect. Instead, increase compliance with existing constraints,” says Sofia Wikman, a researcher at Gavle University.

In an online questionnaire, researchers asked citizens about 44 different public health restrictive measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus to see how effective citizens found them. What restrictions are considered a violation of individual freedoms? What attitudes and demographic factors affect compliance? What is the best way for governments to improve compliance with citizens’ rules?

The survey was answered by 9543, and respondents came from 11 countries: the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, India, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Sweden.

The best measures for citizens

The new study provides researchers with unique answers about which measures citizens consider most effective and which measures undermine their human rights.

The responses reveal that politicians should start with the least restrictive and most effective public health measures first in the event of a pandemic.

The measures require a balance between the negative financial, psychological and social effects and the protection of human rights. “

Sofia Wikman, researcher, Gavle University

Countries with a public lack of trust in government should invest in efforts to persuade men

The results reveal that there are significant differences between countries in terms of perceptions of efficiency, restrictiveness, and compliance.

  • In countries where there is public distrust of government, governments should increase efforts to convince their citizens, especially men, that the measures are effective.
  • Financial compensation should be provided to citizens who have lost their jobs or income due to measures taken to improve compliance.
  • Use only evidence-based information in public campaigns.
  • Refrain from implementing measures that are considered more restrictive of human rights than effective and that lack objective evidence of their effectiveness in preventing the spread of the virus.


Journal reference:

Georgieva, I., and others. (2021) Perceived efficacy, restrictiveness, and compliance with covid-19 pandemic containment measures: an international comparative study in 11 countries. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.