BACKGROUND: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, adherence to suggested precautionary measures has been emphasized as important in preventing and curtailing its spread . However, strict adherence to precautionary measures can be demanding .
METHODS: This cluster randomised controlled trial done among 1517 undergraduate dental students tested the effectiveness of 'dissonance induction' (DI) and 'assessment reactivity' (AR) in improving adherence to World Health Organization (WHO) measures as compared to a control group . At baseline, participants in the DI group were tested for their knowledge of precautionary measures, immediately followed by assessment of their adherence to them . This methodology was adapted to systematically reveal the poor adherence of the participants in their self-held cognitions, should there be any . The magnitude of dissonance was measured as the proportion of such dissonant cognitions held by an individual . In the AR group, at baseline, participants were asked about their attitudes alone toward measures . The control group was neither assessed for knowledge and adherence nor for attitudes toward the measures at baseline . Two weeks after the administration of these interventions in the DI and AR groups, the 3 study groups were assessed for adherence .
RESULTS: The follow-up adherence scores in the DI group were found to be significantly higher (15.11 ± 4.1) compared to the AR (13.13 ± 2.01) and control (12.87 ± 2.97) groups as analysed by Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance (Hâ¯=â¯243.5; P <.001). Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed that the adherence scores significantly improved in the DI group from baseline to follow-up (zâ¯=â¯-8.84; P <.001). Magnitude of dissonance at baseline was found to be a significant predictor of follow-up adherence scores (R2â¯=â¯0.255).
CONCLUSION: This study found that DI is an easy intervention to bring an immediate and significant change in adherence to precautionary measures.