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The present study examined the relationship between worry and health behaviours related to the COVID-19 pandemic in a cross-section of nearly 70000 respondents in 58 countries. Past behaviours, such as avoiding social gatherings and maintaining physical distance predicted less worry among respondents in countries culturally distant from the US. In contrast, reporting symptoms increased worry in countries culturally distant from the US. Results suggest that individuals in such countries were more likely to place group interests above personal ones, which was reflected in their preventive health behaviours and influenced the level of worry experienced. Worry, in turn, differentially predicted whether individuals would leave their home in the next 5 days; for individuals in collectivist, non-WEIRD countries, more worry implied leaving the house. Results are discussed from a cross-cultural perspective, analysing worry as an approach-avoidance motivator of health-related behaviour. Suggestions for informing health messaging strategies through the adoption of such principles are provided.