Ongoing Survey Shows Changes in Behaviors, Attitudes Over First Year of Pandemic

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 2, 2021) — New findings from the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS)  Wellness, Health & You (WHY) program reveal changes in Kentuckian’s COVID-19 prevention behaviors and attitudes about vaccination over the first year of the pandemic. More than 1,500 people have completed brief surveys designed to understand how Kentuckians are responding to the pandemic. An infographic of the findings is available here

WHY conducted two sets of surveys in 2020, one from April to June and the second from October to December. The overwhelming majority of respondents (more than 90%) indicated that they had used personal protection behaviors in the past week, and while the practice of social distancing increased over the year, it hovered around 50%. Kentuckians most likely to use personal protection and social distancing measures were inspired by having someone close to them at significant health risk if they got COVID-19.

The second WHY COVID-19 survey, launched mid-October 2020, asked about willingness to be vaccinated against the disease. While the majority of Kentuckians were considering vaccination, 19% had no intention of receiving the vaccine. Those with no intention of being vaccinated were less likely to use social distancing measures.

“This pandemic brings home the truth that we are all in this together. What I do impacts my family, friends and neighbors,” said Ann Coker, Ph.D., WHY Director. “WHY surveys are so important to help us understand what Kentuckians are thinking and doing to prevent COVID-19. For example, understanding reasons why some Kentuckians are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine helps public health and medical workers create public health messaging especially addressing their concerns.”

WHY’s quarterly COVID-19 survey embodies the program’s mission to understand how different life experiences affect the health and wellbeing of Kentuckians. The WHY research project consists of a series of confidential health and life surveys that WHY “members” complete each year. This helps researchers learn more about the interplay between what happens in our lives and our health outcomes.

In return, WHY members receive health promotion information and opportunities to participate in other health research. The WHY research team also shares research findings with the members about the two recent COVID-19 surveys.

All adults are invited to join WHY and take their first COVID-19 survey of 2021. This short questionnaire is completely confidential. Joining WHY is, and always will be, completely free.


In addition to the COVID-19 survey, WHY also has surveys that focus on the health of people of color and of queer individuals.

The Wellness, Health & You (WHY) program is part of the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science, whose mission is to accelerate discoveries that improve health, particularly in Kentucky and Appalachia.

Researchers who would like to discuss partnering with WHY can contact Katie Schill, Ph.D., WHY Project Manager, by emailing