This page from the Accelerator’s Public values, transparency and governance workstream tracks studies and projects involving public engagement and covid-19.
For studies relating to data and data infrastructures for social care during the pandemic, see the Accelerator’s social care data evidence tracker here.
This tracker and its format were inspired by the Ada Lovelace Institute’s Public attitudes to COVID-19, technology and inequality tracker.
Please get in touch if there are any projects you believe should be included in this pandemic public engagement tracker. This can be done by contacting Jamie Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Government conducted survey work analysing the impact of covid-19 on the lives of UK systems, considering public attitudes towards lockdown restrictions, the vaccination program, and emotional wellbeing.
This report explores the opinions of Black and Asian individuals in the UK towards the covid-19 vaccine and its rollout (a majority of participants had expressed some vaccine hesitancy). Though views on vaccination are deeply personal, Traverse found that hesitancy was best addressed through a localised approach, led by trained community members – for example, known local frontline health workers – rather than through government-led advertising or Black and Asian celebrity-led campaigns, which participants felt had singled out, patronised, and homogenised minority communities.
Bristol City council leading a deliberative initiative emphasising engaging marginalised communities who may have been particularly vulnerable to the consequences of the pandemic. ‘The citizens’ assembly will discuss the following question: “How do we recover from covid-19 and create a better future for all in Bristol?”’
Camden Council wanted to engage the public in shaping three principles for local health partnerships to consider when implementing future changes. Involved sessions on covid 19. It was assessed in terms of its impact in securing various democratic goods: inclusivity, the production of considered judgement, and popular control. One interesting innovation was the role of Citizen Scientists: ‘his tool involved participants investigating two tasks. First, participants considered how covid-19 had affected them as individuals. Second, the members spoke to people in the local community to find out how covid-19 had affected them and others. The purpose of this tool was to gather information on the public’s positive and negative experiences of the pandemic and lockdown. This information was anonymised and used to inform the Assembly’s expectations for improving health and care. An advantage of the Citizen Scientist process was that it encouraged deliberation from participants outside of their own experiences and to learn from people in the community.’
This survey found that almost half of all the migrants questioned said they would be scared to access healthcare if they fell ill during this pandemic, with 60% of migrants from Africa and the Caribbean reporting a fear of seeking treatment. Despite the fact that the majority of migrants are entitled to free NHS care, 30% of those surveyed who do have a visa and are in the UK lawfully expressed a fear of requesting care. The JCWE attributes this reluctance to the culture created by the Government’s hostile immigration policy, where undocumented migrants fear having their data passed from the NHS to the Home Office for the purposes of immigration enforcement, and overseas visitors are charged for treatment.
This 1003 person survey revealed broad public support for vaccine passports amongst the UK population. This support was consistent across different demographics and political views. Support was lowest regarding access to places of worship, and highest for international travel.
Analysis of videos posted to TikTok suggested that video length, titles, and content type all influenced the level of citizen engagement. For example, video length was negatively associated with the number of likes and comments.
A study conducted into public attitudes towards various inequalities in the UK in which over 2000 adults participated. The report revealed a major unifying concern surrounding regional inequalities. Attitudes towards racial inequalities were more mixed, and growing gender inequality was a lower concern. Visions of a meritocratic UK society were still prominent, a limiting factor on demands for action addressing inequality. As an example, ‘despite the exceptional circumstances, Britons are more likely to think that job losses caused by the crisis are the result of personal failure than chance’.
Online deliberative workshops were used to gather informed and considered preferences for covid triage. Participants rejected ‘fair innings’ and ‘life projects’ justifications for age-based allocation. No single principle was recommended: instead a concern for three core principles and values emerged: ‘equality, efficiency and vulnerability’.
A cross-national study, which assessed for participant comprehension, found that respondents were broadly in favour of conducting challenge trials (75%) and integrated trials (63%) over standard trials. ‘Even as respondents acknowledged the risks, they perceived both accelerated trials as similarly ethical to standard trial designs. This high support is consistent across every geography and demographic subgroup we examined, including vulnerable populations.’
Two Emergency Department physicians from Massachusetts General Hospital led an ask me anything (AMA) session on covid. Results suggested that participants were not solely interested in receiving information, but also wanted to engage in a discussion. The majority of bi-directional discussion occurred between participants in the absence of responses from the expert physicians. Due to the large number of questions and the number of experts compared to participants, not all questions were answered.
A discussion of the shifts in strategies and methods of public engagement that are demanded by a pandemic and their implications: e.g. the shift to web based engagement in a poor-resourced country like Mozambique would entail a selection bias towards a minority based in large urban centres. In contrast, a large segment of the population uses mobile-based platforms, a fact that the researchers utilised to conduct phone based oral interviews where fieldwork based on in-person contact had been suspended.
A survey (conducted before the vaccine candidates had completed clinical trials) revealed preference expressed for prioritisation towards front-line medical care workers, then children and the elderly who are at high risk of dying of Covid. The authors argue that ‘future work on setting priorities for vaccine allocation should use deliberative modes of public engagement to assess public priorities under scarcity and evaluate effective communication’.
This survey of 2174 Australian residents not only revealed attitudes and understandings of the pandemic, but demographic indicators: ‘The findings also highlight psychological and demographic factors associated with lower engagement with health, protective behaviors, including male gender, younger age, and low levels of worry about the outbreak’
State backed outlets from China, Iran, Russia and Turkey reached tens of millions of social media users from around the world. State backed outlets releasing Covid themed content in French, German and Spanish can achieve greater engagement per article than sources like Le Monde, Der Spiegal, and El Pais. Coverage varied depending on the language and source company: e.g. Russian outlets working in French and German emphasised civil disorder in ‘weak’ democratic governments in Europe, whilst Chinese reporting in Turkish praised the Chinese government response.
Emphasises the need for equitable strategies to engage at-risk and vulnerable populations and communities. To do, conference calls involving faith based organisations with relationships with the hospital, but also other community leaders, were ran. These calls were led at an appropriate level of health literacy and in a sensitive manner. Topics discussed on the calls included quarantining, health disparities, mental health, social isolation and ethical concerns relating to the use of hospital resources, with community leaders identifying barriers to adherence to public health protocols.
Formed by UK government. 110 citizens representative of population, including presentation by an ‘expert lead’ followed by facilitated small group discussion. ‘On June 23rd, 2020, the Climate Assembly UK released an interim report containing the results of the two votes (see below) and verbatim quotes from assembly members about the rationale behind their recommendations’:
- 79% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that, “Steps taken by the government to help the economy recover should be designed to help achieve net zero”.
- 93% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that, “As lockdown eases, government, employers and/or others should take steps to encourage lifestyles to change to be more compatible with reaching net zero.”
Led by Scottish government, allowed registers users to submit ideas, rate the idea of others users, and provide (moderated) comments. ‘The Scottish Government Digital Communications Team ‘pre-seeded’ eight ideas in order to encourage people to engage with the themes in the Framework and the ‘Test, Trace, Isolate, Support Strategy.' The government also posted two broad questions to prompt users to identify their key concerns: “What one change to the current restrictions would have the most positive impact on your life?” and “What could help enable people to comply with the lockdown restrictions?”
Details the efforts by the Italian Ministry of Health to use its official Facebook page to mitigate the spread of misinformation and provide Covid updates to online publics, in the context of declining trust in public institutions in Italy. For example: ‘With the emergency, the number of likes rose from 61,196 on 30 January to 409,145 on April 3, showing the need felt by users to find a reliable institutional source about the virus, but also the strategic function played by this page in mitigating the infodemic… One negative aspect was the shortage of replies to users’ comments on the page (less than 5%), leaving people’s queries largely unanswered and thus possibly undermining trust in this institution.’
The paper explores how Chinese social media could be used not just for state censorship and surveillance, but as places of active public engagement, ‘in which Chinese citizens expressed care and solidarity, engaged in claim-making and resistance, and negotiated with authorities’.
A survey of three different public health messages and their reception from 3 different public health authorities (PHA) on Facebook: the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, and Public Health England (PHE). The MOH published more covid-19 posts compared to the CDC and PHE, whilst the average number of comments per covid -19 post was greatest for the CDC. Six major themes for posts were identified, with the most common across the different PHAs being posts about safety measures and situation updates. MOH posts covered a broader variety of themes than the CDC or PHE. The themes of the MOH’s posts were diverse, while the CDC and PHE posts focused on a few themes. Response sentiments were more positive for MOH posts than CDC or PHE, but toxic comments were rare across all PHAs.
This piece draws lessons from previous infectious disease outbreaks to discuss how to mobilise a public health response in the context of war. It emphasises the importance of social media tools like WhatsApp in public health messaging, and the mobilisation of a broad base of volunteers to support local governance organisations, for example Idleb Health Directorate and the White Helmets.