Socio-Cultural Implications of COVID-19: Educating, Engaging & Empowering the Public

Parsons Leigh, Jeanna J | $401,161

Nova Scotia Dalhousie University 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

A novel infectious disease, COVID-19, is affecting mainland China and is now in at least 27 other countries. Since December 2019, over 67,000 people have been infected and more than 1,500 have died. Infectious disease outbreaks pose a severe threat to the physical and mental health of individuals and populations worldwide. A better understanding of social and cultural factors that contribute to public knowledge and perceptions of COVID‑19 are needed to develop evidence informed strategies to combat misinformation, stigma and fear. In response to this challenge this study proposes to develop a national knowledge translation (KT) campaign to enhance public knowledge, understand public perceptions and develop targeted interventions to close identified public knowledge gaps. This will be achieved in three phases: i) Focus groups with members of the public from 5 provinces to identify major factors influencing public knowledge, perceptions and behaviours during the COVID‑19 outbreak. ii) National survey with 1000 members of the public across Canada to create a comprehensive list of top public knowledge gaps, perceptions, and behaviours related to the COVID-19. iii) A national knowledge translation (KT) Campaign to educate, empower and engage the public to increase knowledge and foster positive public change in the context of the COVID‑19 epidemic. This study will target the Canadian public with the ultimate goal to educate, empower and engage members of the public to be informed stewards of their health knowledge in relation to the current outbreak by strengthening public understanding of the impact of COVID‑19 on individuals and communities and providing evidence informed interventions to inform social and public health responses.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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