Chinese and non-Chinese Canadians Response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Interrelations between Risk Perception, Discrimination, and Preventative Health Actions

Noels, Kimberly | $219,580

Alberta University of Alberta 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has triggered fear worldwide, and in Canada, some of this fear has been misplaced onto Chinese Canadians. The proposed research program is broadly concerned with Chinese Canadians’ experiences of discrimination and stigmatization in the current context of the COVID‑19 epidemic. Central to these experiences, we suggest, is non-Chinese Canadians’ understanding of risk and the cultural dimensions of preventative health practices. The research program has three interrelated components that, together, will contribute to a comprehensive understanding of how Chinese and non-Chinese Canadians understand, experience, and react to the COVID-19, and have implications for developing strategies to combat stigma and fear associated with Chinese people and COVID-19. The first study involves a longitudinal study of Chinese Canadians’ experiences of discrimination during the COVID‑19 epidemic will help determine what kinds of support Chinese Canadians would like to receive now and in the near future. The second study focuses on non-Chinese Canadians’ perceptions of risk associated with virus transmission. This study will test the idea that one way to allay fears aroused by viral outbreaks is to provide people with accurate numerical information about the mortality rate produced by the virus, and its main implication that reducing fear may decrease discrimination against Chinese Canadians. Risk perceptions also predict preventative behaviour. Thus, the third study focuses on wearing a face mask in public as a preventative health practice that is particularly enmeshed in cultural beliefs that differ across the two communities Together, these three interrelated components represent significant social countermeasure research to combat the intergroup threat driven by misinformation, stigma, and cultural misunderstanding associated with COVID-19.

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