People who are depressed are more likely to believe misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, resulting in greater hesitation or refusal to be vaccinated, according to a new US scientific study.
Misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines poses significant obstacles to vaccination efforts, and depression makes people more vulnerable to this anti-vaccine propaganda.
Among other things, new research has found that depression levels are at least three times higher today than they were before the pandemic. Given that, as other studies around the world have shown, depression rates have increased significantly during the pandemic, it is understood that depression is a hitherto invisible factor that hinders Covid-19 vaccination efforts.
The researchers, led by Dr. Roy Perlis of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, who published the study in the American Medical Journal JAMA Network Open, analyzed data on 15,464 adults with a mean age of 48 years, who were evaluated. as true or false a series of misleading claims such as that “Covid-19 vaccines will alter human DNA” or that “these vaccines contain chips that will secretly monitor humans” or that “they contain tissue from aborted embryos” or that “Vaccines cause infertility, making it difficult for a couple to have a child.”
Participants then answered questions about their mental health and possible symptoms of depression.
It was found that people with moderate or severe depressive symptoms – such as indifference to life, sleep or concentration problems, decreased appetite or bulimia, low self-esteem, etc. – believe in twice as much (almost 30%) misinformation statements about vaccines as above, which are usually circulated on social media platforms, compared to people without depression (15%). Also, those who believe such untrue or outrageous claims have been found to be 50% less likely to be vaccinated.
The presence of depression is 2.2 times more likely to adopt anti-vaccine misinformation and 2.7 times more likely to refuse to be vaccinated. New study shows that people with depression are more likely to be unvaccinated and therefore at greater risk than Covid-19. And this was found to be true regardless of one's political beliefs, age or gender.
According to the researchers, depressed people have a more general tendency towards negativity, that is, a tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive information and aspects of things, which favors the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines.
“One of the important things about depression is that it can lead people to see the world differently, in a way the opposite of seeing the world through pink glasses. To some depressed people, the world seems like a very dark and dangerous place. “If you believe that, you are probably more likely to believe that vaccines are dangerous, even if they are not,” said Dr. Perlis.
“Our findings show that by addressing the very high levels of depression during Covid-19, we could reduce the tendency of people to believe in misinformation,” he added.
He also stressed that the purpose of the new study is not to “burden” people with depression with guilt, but to highlight the fact that these people are more vulnerable to anti-vaccine misinformation.
Link to the scientific publication