Fear of COVID-19 among Peruvian People Living in Disadvantaged Communities: A Cross-Sectional Study

Carlos Sotomayor-Beltran1, *
, Hernan Matta-Solis1, 2
, Rosa Perez-Siguas2
, Eduardo Matta-Solis2
, Lourdes Matta-Zamudio3

1 Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Ciencias y Humanidades, Lima, Peru
2 Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Maria Auxiliadora, Lima, Peru
3 Instituto Peruano de Salud Familiar, Lima, Peru

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© 2021 Sotomayor-Beltran et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Ciencias y Humanidades, Lima, Peru; Tel: +51 17151533; E-mail:



The COVID-19 crisis is fuelling a state of fear among the human population at global level. Especially, those living in informal settlements and slums worldwide have been profoundly impacted by this pandemic. Individuals living in these places are already leading underprivileged lives. Thus, the economic and mental health problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis have further exacerbated their living standards, which has resulted, for instance, in tragedies such as suicides.


In this study, we have sought to identify those individuals most at risk of displaying high levels of fear of COVID-19 in an informal settlement located in the capital city of Peru.


A questionnaire was administered to 449 inhabitants living in the Carmen Alto informal settlement. The questionnaire was made up of two parts: the first one inquired about demographic data and the second part consisted of the Fear of COVID-19 Scale.


The demographic variables of age, gender, marital status, educational level, occupation, whether a relative from the household was infected with COVID-19, and whether one of them died of this showed significant differences. It could be observed as well that the groups of females, stable workers, unemployed and those having completed a workforce education are at higher odds of displaying high levels of fear of COVID-19. As expected, the groups that had either a relative infected with COVID-19 or a relative death by this had the highest levels of fear towards the virus.


The female participants are more likely to display higher levels of fear of COVID-19 due to the terrible effect that unfavorable events have on them. In the cases of the unemployed and stable workers, their proneness to show high levels of fear towards the virus is because they have lost their incomes, due to the loss of their jobs, and because of fear of infection, respectively. Hence, we hope that this work serves Peruvian (and other) health authorities to develop strategies that help individuals living in informal settlements and are in urgent need of mitigating mental health problems.

Keywords: COVID-19, Fear, Informal settlements, Underprivileged, Peru, Mental problems.