Research>Global Academies>UK Study of public experiences during the COVID19 Pandemic

UK study of public experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic

In March 2020, as the coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic was escalating in the UK, psychology researchers from Cardiff Met’s School of Sport and Health Sciences and Cardiff University’s Centre for Trials Research, very quickly designed an online survey to find out about the experiences of people living in the UK during the outbreak. This was one of the first projects of its kind in the UK. The survey explored the realities of what was happening for the UK public at the beginning of the lockdown—aiming to understand what members of the public were thinking, feeling, and doing during the early days of the crisis and how they were responding to communications from governmental and health services. The online survey explored a range of topics, investigating the changes the pandemic was having on peoples’ lives, and the anxieties and frustrations people were experiencing. The survey also sought to establish how the public felt about governmental authorities and the health services’ response to these rapidly changing situations, and if they felt they had access to accurate and up to date information.  

The first online survey closed on April 12, 2020 with an impressive 11,417 participants taking part between March 13th to April 14th. Project leader, Dr. Rhiannon Phillips, a Lecturer in Health and Wellbeing Psychology at Cardiff Met, and her team are now working to analyse the survey findings, launch a project webpage, and apply for funding for follow-up research.

Dr Rhiannon Phillips (PI)

How people respond to, and are affected by, pandemics are influenced by an array of psychological and socio-demographic factors. These need to be understood when designing and implementing global and national public health initiatives to minimise harm across the population. Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical health and psychological well-being is a high priority for UK Government policy making and pandemic planning. Findings from this project provide guidance for the UK Government on public health behavioural patterns and contribute recommendations to positively influence adherence to behavioural advice and prevent disinformation.

Public perceptions of and responses to pandemic viral threats can act both as barriers or facilitators to engagement with and adherence to containment, delay, and mitigation policies. This project links to global initiatives from the WHO to learn from public responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to better prepare for the next unforeseen epidemic. The research team have actively considered how to adapt the UK-centric project to a multi-national comparison work driven by international partners who can adapt the survey questions for cultural relevance. Next steps for this project include conducting interviews with key participants and repeating the online survey in the summer of 2020 and again in a 2021, to see how attitudes have evolved over time.

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