Trajectories of perceived susceptibility to COVID-19 over a year: The COVID-19 & chronic conditions (C3) cohort study

Lauren A. Opsasnick*, Laura M. Curtis, Mary J. Kwasny, Rachel O'Conor, Guisselle A. Wismer, Julia Yoshino Benavente, Rebecca M. Lovett, Morgan R. Eifler, Andrea M. Zuleta, Stacy Cooper Bailey, Michael S. Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The U.S. public health response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been widely criticized as having downplayed the potential implications COVID-19 could have on one's personal health. Despite the unprecedented threat of COVID-19, many individuals still believed that it was not at all likely that they would become infected. We sought to investigate trends in adults' perceived susceptibility to COVID-19 over the first year of the pandemic, whether distinct trajectories emerged, and if these trajectories differed by participant socio-demographic characteristics.This was a longitudinal cohort study with 5 time points of data collection (March 13, 2020-March 3, 2021). Subjects included 627 adults living with ≥1 chronic conditions, who completed a baseline interview and at least one follow-up interview. In addition to collecting relevant socio-demographic characteristics, participants' perceived susceptibility to COVID-19 across time was assessed and classified into distinct trajectories.Nearly two-thirds (62.2%) of participants perceived themselves to be highly susceptible to COVID-19 from the onset of the pandemic ("early responders") and sustained this over a year, a third (29.0%) eventually perceived themselves to be highly susceptible ("late responders"), and 8.8% maintained a low likelihood of susceptibility throughout the pandemic ("non-responders"). In multivariable analyses, compared to White participants, Latinx participants were significantly more likely to be non-responders and report low likelihood of perceived susceptibility (Risk Ratio [RR]: 3.46; 95% confidence interval: 1.19, 10.1), as were Black participants (RR: 5.49; 95% confidence interval: 2.19, 13.8).A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 out of 11 participants persistently did not think they might be susceptible and potentially infected. Future studies are needed to understand reasons why certain individuals, particularly those of racial/ethnic minorities, did not perceive themselves at risk for infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E29376
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 17 2022


  • Chicago
  • comorbidity
  • coronavirus disease 2019
  • coronavirus disease 2019 perceived susceptibility
  • socio-demographic health disparities
  • trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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