Pandemic Public Engagement Tracker

Public values, transparency and governance

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 jamie.webb@ed.ac.uk.

Organisation:Hopkins Van Mil, UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator
Status:Complete
Published date:September 2021
Fieldwork dates:July - August 2021
Method:Public dialogue, deliberative democracy
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

A public dialogue, commissioned by the Accelerator, to explore the ethical and societal issues in relation to covid-19. Participants focussed on the need to address inequalities exposed by covid-19, build trust and transparency into government policies and actions, and integrate public involvement into policy making. The results of this dialogue will inform some of the future work of the Accelerator.

Organisation:Sudan Y-PEER programme, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Khartoum, Sudan Public Health Institute
Status:Ongoing
Published date:Ongoing
Fieldwork dates:Ongoing
Method:Qualitative research
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

The Sudan COVID-19 Research Group at LSHTM have written a series of policy briefs and initiated a series of community engagement activities through the Sudan Y-Peer Network. This work includes qualitative analysis of public willingness for shielding campaigns.

Organisation:Office for National Statistics
Status:Ongoing
Published date:Ongoing
Fieldwork dates:Ongoing
Method:Survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:National Institute for Health Research, (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM), NHS England and NHS Improvement, and the Office of the National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care, Citizens Juries, Center for New Democratic Proceses
Status:Complete
Published date:July 2021
Fieldwork dates:March - May 2021
Method:Deliberative democracy, citizens juries
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

Three citizens juries were convened to deliberate on the three new data sharing regimes introduced by health and social care services in England during covid-19 to assist with the pandemic response. Overall, the juries supported the decisions to introduce the policies, and would be in favour of them continuing as long as they were valuable (potentially beyond the end of the pandemic and for non-covid related health needs). Participants had concerns around transparency, which they viewed as important even during a pandemic, and would like decisions about the future of the initiatives taken by an independent body of experts and lay people rather than ministers.

Organisation:Traverse, Healthwatch England
Status:Complete
Published date:June 2021
Fieldwork dates:May 2021
Method:Dialogic workshops
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Niek Mouter, Jose Ignacio Hernandez, Anatol Valerian Itten
Status:Complete
Published date:May 2021
Fieldwork dates:April - May 2020
Type:Deliberative democracy, participatory value evaluation
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

Using the novel deliberative method of Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE), 30000 Dutch citizens wre asked to recommend which 8 lockdown measures they would prefer to be removed, following information regarding the societal impacts of each. ‘Citizens advised to relax lockdown measures, but not to the point at which the healthcare system becomes heavily overloaded. We found wide support for prioritising the re-opening of contact professions. Conversely, participants disfavoured options to relax restrictions for specific groups of citizens as they found it important that decisions lead to “unity” and not to “division”.’ Participants also supported the use of PVE to involve the public in decision making during the pandemic.

Organisation:Bristol City Council
Status:Published
Published date:May 2021
Fieldwork dates:January-March 2021
Method:Democratic deliberation, survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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?”’

Organisation:Camden Council
Status:Published
Published date:May 2021
Fieldwork dates:February-September 2020
Method:Democratic deliberation
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.’

Organisation:The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Status:Published
Published date:February 2021
Fieldwork dates:February 2021
Method:Survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Serco Institute, Survation
Status:Published
Published date:February 2021
Fieldwork dates:February 2021
Method:Survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Connecting to Congress, Congressional Management Foundation
Status:Complete
Published date:February 2021
Fieldwork dates:April 2020
Method:Deliberative town halls
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

Connecting to Congress attempts to mitigate the limitations of traditional town hall events through deliberative approaches, which aim to support communication between members of the public and elected officials through a productive, non-partisan mechanism. Special events were held focussing on the covid-19 crisis. For example, on April 20th 2020, Rep. Kendra Horn and Mayor David Holt of Oklahoma City participated in a bipartisan online town hall focussing on the public health dimensions of the crisis, to which the director of the local health department was also invited. Both public participants and elected officials engage in evaluative exercises after the town hall events.

Organisation:Qiang Chen, Chen Min, Wei Zhang, Xiaoyue Ma, Richard Evans
Status:Complete
Published date:February 2021
Fieldwork dates:January-April 2020
Method:Video content analysis
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Bobby Duffy, Kirstie Hewlett, Rachel Hesketh, Rebecca Benson, Alan Wager. The Policy Institute, UK in a Changing Europe, Kings College London.
Status:Complete
Published date:February 2021
Fieldwork dates:November 2020
Method:Surveys
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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’.

Organisation:Margot N I Kuylen, Scott Y Kim, Alexander Ruck Keene, Gareth S Owen
Status:Published
Published date:January 2021
Fieldwork dates:August - September 2020
Method:Democratic deliberation
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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’.

Organisation:David Broockman, Joshua Kalla, Alexander Guerrero, Mark Budolfson, Nir Eyal, Nicholas P Jewell, Monica Magalhaes, Jasjeet S Sekhon
Status:Published
Published date:December 2020
Fieldwork dates:May 2020
Method:Survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.’

Organisation:Yoshiharu Kobayashi, Tobias Heinrich, Kristin A. Bryant
Status:Complete
Published date:October 2020
Fieldwork dates:April 2020
Method:Survey experiments
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

Two survey experiments involving 887 U.S. residents reveal their attitudes towards development aid. ‘People’s concern about the impact of covid-19 on their country’s financial situation reduces their support for aid. If they think that aid can help curb the next wave of the disease at home by first alleviating its impact in developing countries, people become substantially more supportive of giving aid. In contrast, merely stressing how COVID-19 might ravage developing countries barely changes their aid attitudes.’

Organisation:Deborah Lai, Daniel Wang, Joshua Calvano, Ali S. Raja, Shuhan He
Status:Published
Published date:October 2020
Fieldwork dates:March 2020
Method:Analysis of Reddit AMA.
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Amílcar Magaçoa, Khátia Munguambe, Ariel Nhacoloa, Contardo Ambrósioa, Felizarda Nhacoloa, Saquina Cossaa, Eusébio Macete, and Inácio Mandomando
Status:Published
Published date:October 2020
Method:Commentary
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Sarah E. Gollust, Brendan Saloner, Robert Hest, Lynn A. Blewett
Status:Published
Published date:September 2020
Fieldwork dates:April 2020
Method:Survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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’.

Organisation:Kate Faasse and Jill Newby
Status:Published
Published date:September 2020
Fieldwork dates:March 2020
Method:Online survey
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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’

Organisation:Simon N Williams, Christopher J Armitage, Tova Tampe, Kimberly Dienes
Status:Complete
Published date:July 2020
Fieldwork dates:March - April 2020
Method:Online focus group
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

This qualitative study explored UK public perceptions and experiences of social distancing and isolation caused by the pandemic. Four major themes emerged: (1) various forms of loss associated with social distancing, (2) criticisms of government communication, (3) adherence (participants reporting high levels of self-adherence but reported failures amongst others), and (4) uncertainties around the future.

Organisation:The Scottish government
Status:Complete
Published date:June 2020
Fieldwork dates:May 2020
Method:Digital engagement
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.'[5] 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?”

Organisation:Oxford Internet Institute. Katarina Rebello, Christian Schwieter, Marcel Schliebs, Kate Joynes-Burgess, Mona Elswah, Jonathan Bright, Philip N. Howard
Status:Complete
Published date:June 2020
Fieldwork dates:May 2020
Method:Social distribution network analysis
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Panagis Galiatsatos, Kimberly Monson, MopeninuJesu Oluyinka, DanaRose Negro, Natasha Hughes, Daniella Maydan, Sherita H. Golden, Paula Teague, W. Daniel Hale
Status:Published
Published date:June 2020
Fieldwork dates:March - May 2020
Method:Community conference calls
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Six Select Committees of the House of Commons
Status:Complete
Published date:June 2020
Fieldwork dates:May 2020
Method:Democratic deliberation
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.”
Organisation:Alessandro Lovari
Status:Complete
Published date:June 2020
Method:Commentary
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.’

Organisation:Xiaoling Chen
Status:Published
Published date:May 2020
Fieldwork dates:January - April 2020
Method:Textual analysis of Chinese social media
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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’.

Organisation:Aravind Sesagiri Raamkumar, Soon Guan Tan, Hwee Lin Wee
Status:Published
Published date:May 2020
Fieldwork dates:January - March 2020
Method:Extraction, categorisation and thematic analysis of social media posts
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.

Organisation:Abdulkarim Ekzayez, Munzer al-Khalil, Mohamad Jasiem, Raed Al Saleh, Zedoun Alzoubi, Kristen Meagher, Preeti Patel
Status:Published
Published date:May 2020
Method:Commentary
Summary and implications for public values, transparency and governance:

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.