COVID-19 represents a serious challenge to governments and healthcare systems. In addition to testing/contact tracing, behavioural and social responses such as handwashing and social distancing or cocooning are effective tools for mitigating the spread of the disease. Psychological (e.g., risk perceptions, self-efficacy) and contextual factors (government, public health messaging, etc.) are likely to drive these behaviours. Collated real-time information of these indicators strengthens local, national and international public health advice and messaging. Further, understanding how well public health and government messages and measures are understood, communicated via (social) media and adhered to is vital. There are two governments and public health jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI). This represents an opportunity to explore implications of differing measures and messaging across these two jurisdictions as they relate to COVID-19 on two similar populations. The expert research team are drawn from a range of disciplines in the two countries.
This project has four nested studies:Assessment of key behavioural, social and psychological factors through a large, prospective representative telephone survey of individuals aged over-18 on a weekly basis over eight weeks (n=3072); and conduct qualitative focus groups over the same period.Interrogation of social media messaging and formal media responses in both jurisdictions to investigate the spread of (mis)information.Modelling data from Studies 1 and 2, plotting the psychosocial/behavioural and media messaging information with international, ROI and NI incidence and mortality data. Conducting an assessment of health policy transfer in an attempt to incorporate the most significant public health and political insights from each jurisdiction.The CONTAIN project will develop an evidence-based toolbox for targeting public health messaging and political leadership and will be created for use for the anticipated second wave of COVID-19, and subsequently for future epidemics/pandemics.