Spatial and social patterning of COVID‑19 prevention and transmission in Canada: Investigating the impacts of risk perception and preventive behaviour on individual activity space

Wang, Lu | $189,050

Ontario Ryerson University 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Emerging and re-emerging global infectious diseases are presenting unprecedented public health challenges, resulting in negative, long-lasting health, sociocultural and economic consequences for individuals and communities around the world. As a global city, Toronto is home to one of the most highly-travelled populations in the world. It has been a significant receiving geography of a number of global infectious diseases. The project aims to understand the relationships among health risk perception, community prevention behaviour and individual activity space during the on-going global COVID‑19 outbreak. Disease transmission in an urban centre is directly influenced by individual activity space and the effectiveness of preventive measures taken in a community, which is largely shaped by perception of the disease and its risk. The project will (1) explore the perception of COVID‑19 and its risks among groups with different immigration status, socio-economic-demographic characteristics within Toronto’s Chinese community; (2) examine how risk perception shapes prevention behaviour and individual activity space; and (3) assess how activity space is influenced by risk perception, prevention practices, and other factors through spatial-quantitative, mapping and qualitative analysis. Data will be collected from a community survey on risk perception, prevention behaviour and daily mobility, and focus groups on coping strategies. The project will contribute to the global response to the COVID‑19 outbreak by providing evidence-based findings on community prevention behaviour in a large urban hub. It will reveal local perspectives, citizen approaches and community practices as outbreak response effort, and enhance our understanding of the cultural dimensions of the epidemic. It will yield implications for public health response in setting policies under time constraints and uncertainty, allocating resources, identifying high-risk groups and setting vaccine priority.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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