A newly-released University of Utah Health study revealed that more than 40% of Americans surveyed were less than honest about whether they had COVID or complied with preventative measures.

1,700 people were asked about how they talked about their COVID or vaccination status, or how they discussed precautionary measures with others. 42% of those surveys admitted they weren’t completely truthful about things like:

  • Not mentioning they had COVID (or thought they did) when going to see a doctor.
  • Telling someone they were vaccinated when they were not.
  • Breaking quarantine rules.
  • Telling others they were taking COVID precautions when they weren’t.
  • Saying they weren’t vaccinated when they were.

“Some individuals may think if they fib about their COVID-19 status once or twice, it’s not a big deal,” said Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at U of U Health via a press release. “But if, as our study suggests, nearly half of us are doing it, that’s a significant problem that contributes to prolonging the pandemic.”

Such behavior can have consequences. “When people are dishonest about their COVID-19 status or what precautions they are taking, it can increase the spread of disease in their community,” said co-lead author Andrea Gurmankin Levy, Ph.D.

The study’s authors also acknowledge they have no way to know if people were telling the truth in the study, which makes it possible that the findings may underrepresent how commonly people misrepresented their health status.

Researchers say the results of the survey are important to help better inform public health strategies for future worldwide illnesses.