What are your opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic? Sask. researchers want to know.
Saskatchewan residents can have their say about COVID-19 public health measures through a series of five-minute surveys.
“We’re really trying to capture the public's voice and their viewpoints when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Dr. Patrick Seitzinger, a physician and University of Saskatchewan School of Public Health graduate, said in a news release.
“As public health researchers and practitioners, we aim to create public health messages and guidelines that are evidence based. The other big piece is the public's understanding — making sure that our messaging isn't just accurate, but that it's also effective.
Participants can complete the simple surveys through a smartphone app.
Results will help to guide the province’s public health strategies for the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks, the university says.
“I realize that the viewpoints of the public are diverse,” Seitzinger said in the release. “To me, it's really necessary to understand what's going on in the minds of the people across Saskatchewan so that we can make sure that our public health strategies align with the specific needs of the population.”
If users enable the location data feature, GPS data will help researchers understand the population’s trends and their movement patterns across the province.
“The location information can provide a lot of context about the risk of disease spread without being invasive,” said another member of the research team, Cheryl Waldner.
“It is not about tracking individuals and seeing where each individual is going — it’s about how movement patterns are changing over time.”
Any Saskatchewan adult who has access to a smartphone or computer with internet access can join the study, which will be open between June and October 2021.
Participants will complete one short survey per day for the study’s first five days to collect baseline information on risk perceptions, behaviours and knowledge about COVID-19.
In subsequent weeks, participants will complete two mini-surveys to gauge any changes in mask use practices, social contacts and COVID-19 vaccination viewpoints.
If participants experience COVID-related symptoms, the surveys will also seek to understand the respondents’ experience with the illness and any long-term health effects.
The researchers plan to publish their findings in an academic journal and share results with Saskatchewan resident, the release said.