Does high public trust amplify compliance with stringent COVID-19 government health guidelines? A multi-country analysis using data from 102,627 individuals

Pak, Anton, McBryde, Emma, and Adegboye, Oyelola A. (2021) Does high public trust amplify compliance with stringent COVID-19 government health guidelines? A multi-country analysis using data from 102,627 individuals. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 14. pp. 293-302.

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To examine how public trust mediates the people’s adherence to levels of stringent government health policies and to establish if these effects vary across the political regimes.


This study utilizes data from two large-scale surveys: the global behaviors and perceptions at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic and the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT). Linear regression models were used to estimate the effects of public trust and strictness of restriction measures on people’s compliance level. The model accounted for individual and daily variations in country-level stringency of preventative measures. Differences in the dynamics between public trust, the stringent level of government health guidelines and policy compliance were also examined among countries based on political regimes.


We find strong evidence of the increase in compliance due to the imposition of stricter government restrictions. The examination of heterogeneous effects suggests that high public trust in government and the perception of its truthfulness double the impact of policy restrictions on public compliance. Among political regimes, higher levels of public trust significantly increase the predicted compliance as stringency level rises in authoritarian and democratic countries.


This study highlights the importance of public trust in government and its institutions during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results are relevant and help understand why governments need to address the risks of non-compliance among low trusting individuals to achieve the success of the containment policies.

Item ID: 65801
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1179-1594
Keywords: Public trust; Stringency; Compliance; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Public health
Copyright Information: © 2021 Pak et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2021 02:18
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320211 Infectious diseases @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4407 Policy and administration > 440706 Health policy @ 30%
38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380108 Health economics @ 30%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920109 Infectious Diseases @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920206 Health Policy Economic Outcomes @ 50%
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