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Universities launch research project on UK attitudes to coronavirus pandemic

​March 24, 2020

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Researchers urge people from across country to take part in wide-ranging survey

One of the first research projects aimed at gauging the UK public’s attitude and responses to the coronavirus pandemic is being launched.

Experts at Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University are urging people from across the UK to take part in a survey to assess how people feel about - and how they are responding to - one of the biggest health crises facing the country in recent history.

The wide-ranging questionnaire asks how much impact people feel the pandemic is having on their lives, and what they think about the way the government and health services are responding.

The researchers hope up to 10,000 people will take part - and those organising the frontline response will get early access to the reports to help inform the measures they are taking.

Project leader Dr Rhiannon Phillips, a lecturer in health and wellbeing psychology from Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: “We’ve set this project up very quickly because we want to capture what’s happening right now. This is one of the first projects of its kind in the UK. 

“These are uncertain times for many people - the situation is changing rapidly - and we want to make sure we document the here and now and the challenges we’re all facing.”

Dr Emma Thomas-Jones, a researcher who leads on infection, inflammation and immunity research at Cardiff University, said: “We want to know what people are thinking, feeling and doing to help the response to this crisis now - but also as a matter of historical record.”

The survey should take about 20-30 minutes to complete and questions include:
  • How severe do you think the coronavirus infection will be in the UK?
  • Are you scared of coronavirus?
  • How often do you think about coronavirus?
  • What specific actions you are taking and how effective you feel these measures will be
  • Whether you have had enough information about Covid-19 and which sources you feel are reliable
The researchers said they wanted to hear from people aged 18 or over with a wide range of experiences, but particularly urged men, people aged under 30 and those aged over 60 to respond. They would also like to hear from people who are finding the current situation particularly difficult due to their personal circumstances.

The questionnaire will be distributed to 36,500 people via the HealthWise Wales project, which is collecting data to build up an in-depth picture of the nation’s health to help plan future needs. But the researchers stressed that they want people from across the UK to take part.

They plan to repeat the survey, which is currently unfunded, in three months and again in a year to see how attitudes shift over time.

Dr Thomas-Jones, of Cardiff University’s Centre for Trials Research, said: “We hope this research will help us to understand people’s experiences of this pandemic now - and as it progresses - to help health organisations and the NHS respond in real time.

“We also hope it will help to inform the response to any future pandemics the UK might face.”

The researchers plan to create a final report on the project and prepare an article for an academic journal. They also hope to use the findings for teaching purposes.

The survey will be open until 12 April, and can be found here.