Investigating Trust and Adoption of Contact Tracing for Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19

Irani, Pourang | $50,000

Manitoba University of Manitoba 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

Since the first case of COVID‑19 was reported in December 2019, it has been spreading rapidly across the world leading to a global and unprecedented pandemic. While the public has been tackling this disease through physical-distancing, health agencies and governments around the globe are searching for effective strategies to mitigate the spread and combat COVID-19. On March 24th, Prime Minister Trudeau expressed Canada’s potential interest in tracking Canadians’ locations, or contact tracing, to ensure they are following distancing rules, particularly upon returning from travels or when infected. However, such data collection appears challenging because of privacy issues. Consequently, the concept of contact tracing has not appeared favorably and the fear of mistrust may mean that such a method to mitigate the spread might not be effective. We propose to investigate the necessary elements for adoption of contact tracing at large scale. In particular, we propose to design an app to help investigate questions of trust and scalable adoption. Through the application of well known models, such as the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and methods for effective communication, including Data Videos, we will study Canadians’ perspectives towards contact tracing and how these perspectives change over time. We furthermore will examine the impact of contact tracing on decision making. The dual link between effective mitigation strategies and public trust need to be critically explored as it may enable for the successful adoption of contact tracing applications in Canada, and in countries that are identifying means to introduce such technologies.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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