Abstract: Race, Masks, Residency and Concern Regarding COVID-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Race, Masks, Residency and Concern Regarding COVID-19

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Ahwatukee A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Sameena Azhar, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Rahbel Rahman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fordham University
Saumya Tripathi, MPhil, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Fordham University, New York, NY
Laura Wernick, PhD, Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Margaret Cohen, MSW, MSW Candidate, Fordham University, Graduate School of Social Service, New York, NY
Tina Maschi, PhD, Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Jordan DeVylder, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Background: Minimizing the risks of the global COVID-19 pandemic and addressing its racial, social and economic implications are the greatest public health dilemmas of our era. In the United States, mask-wearing has been highly politicized as social tensions have arisen over mask mandates and social distancing. The politics of pandemics often involves racial and ethnic discrimination against minoritized communities. Emerging research calls for an exploration of the implications of mask-wearing for minoritized groups, as well as stigmatization towards people with and without masks.

Objectives: To assess how race, mask status, residency and other sociodemographic characteristics predicted concern over COVID-19.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, web-based survey of 568 respondents in the United States, presenting a series of vignettes with accompanying images of people of different racial backgrounds. We asked participants to indicate their level of COVID-19 concern in response to eight images of masked and unmasked individuals of four different racial/ethnic backgrounds, namely Asian, Black, Hasidic and White. To analyze differences across racial attitudes, we recruited roughly equal numbers of Asian (n=181), Black (n=195) and White (192) participants, within and outside of New York City. We hypothesized that race and residency of the subject, as well as race and mask status of the presented image, would predict COVID-19 concern.

Results: Using a linear mixed effects model, we found that COVID-19 concern was associated with age, being unmasked, residing in NYC, being heterosexual, and having higher levels of education, regardless of the race of the image being presented. Asian respondents were more likely than White respondents to be concerned regarding COVID-19. Individuals who self-reported themselves to be at high risk for COVID-19 were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 over those who considered themselves to be low risk.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of acknowledging interactions between race, mask status and residency in predicting the degree of COVID-19 concern. Findings have public health implications for policy and program planning for ongoing or future pandemics.