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Coronavirus Outbreak Community Involvement

A team of researchers at Imperial College London want to hear your views and experiences of the coronavirus outbreak to inform the communication we share and the research that we hope to carry out during this public health emergency.

  • Discussion
  • For Health Research

Help guide our response to the outbreak

The Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC) at Imperial College London are developing research to explore and understand people’s views about, experiences of and behavioural responses to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK and elsewhere. To guide that effort and to help inform COVID-19 research and responses more broadly - for example in mathematical modelling and policy - we have launched this online community involvement opportunity to gain rapid, early insight from members of the public and establish a network for ongoing community engagement. 

From previous outbreaks (SARS, pandemic influenza, Ebola) it was clear that early engagement with communities is an essential part of outbreak response. Limiting the impact of a new infection like the novel coronavirus includes several interventions that depend on people changing their daily routines. First steps are to try and contain the spread through quarantining those with the infection and their contacts who may be at risk. These restrictions may be required by the authorities or be voluntary. Further steps to reduce spread include “social distancing” through restricting social gatherings and promoting preventative behaviours (e.g. good hand hygiene practices). Understanding how the public are feeling and responding to the outbreak can inform how authorities frame and deliver public health messaging. And involving local communities in the development of preventative behavioural measures could improve acceptance and adoption. 

We are hoping to use the VOICE online platform to capture the opinions, experiences, preferences and unmet needs of communities in the UK during this outbreak, in an attempt to:

  1. Inform Imperial College’s current and future research into the outbreak, including our own socio-behavioural study
  2. Find new and effective ways to rapidly engage and involve communities during a public health emergency
  3. Highlight any unmet needs amongst diverse communities in relation to the coronavirus outbreak
  4. Inform how the government and Public Health authorities respond to the outbreak, now and in the coming months

We will also continue to reflect on and adapt our involvement activity to find the approaches that are most suitable for you and make the greatest difference to the research.

How can I get involved?

  1. Respond anonymously to our Polls below - these may change over time. 
    If not already a VOICE member, you will need to register (for free) first. However, once signed in, your vote will still be anonymous – this is just to avoid multiple votes.
  2. Online Community Involvement Form [temporarily paused]
    The summarised insights from our first online involvement exercise have now been released. You can read more about it in our blog. We hope to open a new form shortly. Please keep checking this page for new updates.
  3. Join the 'COVID-19: Community Engagement Support Group' 
    This is a platform for VOICE members to help with the development of our community involvement activities and material. You can find it within the Groups tab or click the green button at the top to register.
  4. Send us your feedback and ideas on what we could do differently.
    Given the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak, our community involvement and engagement will need to respond rapidly too. Therefore, we hope for your support on this and welcome any constructive feedback and suggestions about this page or our involvement activity by emailing [email protected]

What would be your preferred or 'first choice' method for remote public involvement?

Public involvement in research often meanings sharing your opinions, perspectives, concerns and ideas with researchers to help prioritise research questions, guide research plans, shape the language used and material developed, and ultimately improve the relevance and impact of our work.

This would traditionally means face-to-face meetings in the form of focus groups and workshops. But in the current climate, teams are rapidly testing new ways to make these activities work remotely. No one approach will suit everybody, but we are interested to see if there is an overall preference for one approach over the other.

Please cast your vote on the options below, or share any other ideas with us via the 'Ask a question' button in the panel to the right.

What would be your preferred or 'first choice' method for remote public involvement?

What would you like to see the public more involved in during this outbreak?

If you have any other topics that you think the public should be more involved and consulted on, please send us a message via the 'Ask a question' button in the panel to the right.

What would you like to see the public more involved in during this outbreak?

Learn more about how Imperial College London is responding to the outbreak

Please note: Imperial College are not in a position to offer health advice. For all personal health and travel guidance relating to coronavirus, please visit the following sites for up-to-date health advice and guidance:

  • World Health Organisation - for answers to the most frequent questions about COVID-19
  • NHS.UK - for information about the virus and how to protect yourself
  • GOV.UK - for the latest information about the situation in the UK and what to do if you think you're at risk