Individual-Level Heterogeneity in Mask-wearing During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Malaysia

Stephen X. Zhang, Kim Hoe Loo, Nicolas Li, Xue Wan, Jizhen Li

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Wearing a face mask has been a key approach to contain or slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the ongoing pandemic. However, there is huge heterogeneity among individuals in their willingness to wear face masks during an epidemic. This research aims to investigate the individual heterogeneity to wear face masks and its associated predictors during the COVID-19 pandemic when mask-wearing was not mandatory but individuals’ choices. Based on a survey of 708 Malaysian adults and a multivariate least-squares fitting analysis, the results reveal a significant variance among individuals in wearing masks, as 34% of the individual adults did not always wear masks in public places. Female, individuals who wash their hands more frequently, and those who reported more availability of personal protective equipment were more likely to practice mask-wearing. The identification of less compliant groups of mask-wearing has critical implications by enabling more specific health communication campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • COVID-19
  • face mask-wearing
  • demographic predictors
  • hygienic predictors
  • risk identification
  • infectious diseases


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