Title: Reawakening public support: Implications of desensitization on Covid-19 to the risk perception and health behavior
COVID-19 has brought unretrievable suffering that led to extreme protective behavior and irrational coping strategies. Thereby, public health initiatives and action plans have been implemented to mitigate the virus. However, as the pandemic progress, non-compliance with health protocols and decreased risk perception has become the main barriers to controlling COVID-19 transmission. A study addressing the problem of maintaining health guidelines could provide a better understanding of COVID-19 desensitization and its effect on implementing the recommended health protocols. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the extent of desensitization to COVID-19- related threats and the implication that this has on health behavior and risk perception. In this work, the researchers utilized mixed-methods research by combining two databases. Quantitatively, a validated and reliability-tested Likertscale questionnaire was administered to determine the extent of COVID-19 desensitization. The questionnaire data then underwent statistical analysis. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with a sub-set of desensitized participants to gather qualitative data. The interview transcripts underwent thematic analysis. The questionnaire results showed that 64.75% of the participants were desensitized. Moreover, the qualitative findings of the study were summarized through two emergent themes which represent the interlocking triggers of COVID-19 desensitization and the interplaying factors affecting COVID-19 response. Findings suggest individuals became desensitized to COVID19-related threats, which has a linear effect on their health behavior and risk perception. Hence, the desensitized public can alter the efficacy of COVID-19-related responses. The findings of the study ended in the formulation of the COVID19 re-sensitization plan as proposed by the researchers to be an impetus to reinvigorate public support in mitigating the virus.