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Assessing the equity of misinformation and communication on COVID-19 in BC

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Culture, Economics & Business, Healthcare Delivery & Policy, Social Impacts

We conducted a rapid evidence survey to proactively address the “infodemic” in British Columbia related to COVID-19. Our online survey of British Columbians was to understand their knowledge, attitudes and reported behaviours related to COVID-19 misinformation and communication. The survey participants reflected the diversity of British Columbians as we proactively sought feedback from Indigenous communities, as well as ethnically Chinese and South East Asian communities. This gave us an opportunity to assess our communication strategies while the pandemic was ongoing and provide the right information to the right audiences in the right way at the right time.

We conducted a cross-sectional survey in order to proactively address the “infodemic” in BC related to COVID-19 and contribute to national and international efforts. Our objectives are as follows: 

  1. To understand the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours driven by COVID-19 misinformation in the BC population through a rapid response survey.
  2. To understand where British Columbians access information about COVID-19, what sources they trust and how they prefer to receive messages through a rapid response survey.

We used the survey data to ask questions about:

  1. Who our target population is. (Who is accessing or potentially accessing sources and where is most of the misinformation stemming?).
  2. Where our populations are drawing on information. (This includes both offline and online sources)
  3. What behaviours our populations are employing to cope with COVID-19 including both healthy and unhealthy behaviours.

We included five broad categories of questions resulting in approximately 20-30 individual questions. This includes demographics, communication preferences, knowledge of and attitudes towards misinformation, COVID-19-related health behaviours and COVID-19-related discrimination. The survey design work is ongoing and the questions are likely to change slightly as situation and messaages change and this work is finalized.

The survey results enabled BCCDC to understand knowledge, beliefs and behaviours related to COVID-19 using descriptive statistics and also compare different populations within British Columbia to identify populations to develop targeted messaging in an effort to understand the specific communication needs in Indigenous, Chinese and South East Asian communities. We also wanted to understand what kinds of misinformation beliefs drive what kinds of behavioural coping strategies. To do so we used the survey to develop statistical models using regression. Finally we asked participants to tell us in short form about the kinds of things they want more information about.

Post date: 
Jul 11, 2022