The case study, Public health communication during the COVID-19 pandemic: Perspectives of communication specialists, healthcare professionals, and community members in Quebec, Canada, explores the challenges faced by communication specialists and healthcare professionals in communicating about COVID-19 and how different groups of the public perceived official communications on the virus.
Results reveal the importance of accuracy and credibility in communication about COVID-19 and highlight the need for inclusive and sensitive communication strategies.
Summary of the Case Study
The Aim of the Study
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has affected nearly every aspect of daily life. Effective communication is crucial in preventing the spread of the disease and ensuring that people adopt preventive behaviors. This study aimed to explore how communication specialists and healthcare professionals have communicated about COVID-19 and how different public groups have perceived official communications on the virus.
How data was gathered
The researchers conducted individual semi-structured interviews with six communication specialists and five healthcare professionals to gather data for this study.
They also held three focus groups with 23 participants, including young adults, Quebecers of Asian ethnicity, and Quebecers who were heavily impacted by the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) model was used as a theoretical framework to guide the interpretation of the data.
What they found
The study results showed that daily press conferences were quickly implemented in Quebec to communicate information about COVID-19 to the public.
However, participants highlighted several communication challenges, including the accuracy and credibility of information in a context of uncertainties and rapidly evolving knowledge.
They also identified issues with paternalism, stigmatization of some communities, and promoting action and mobilization of specific subpopulations as communication challenges.
What does it mean?
The study found that not all of the six core principles of the CERC model were consistently applied in communication interventions in Quebec.
Despite some limitations, messages about COVID-19 risk were clearly and consistently communicated and were generally well-understood by most Quebecers.
Overall, this study highlights the importance of effective communication in managing a pandemic and the challenges that can arise in implementing it.
The significance of the study
The significance of this study lies in its examination of how communication specialists and healthcare professionals have communicated about COVID-19 and how different groups of the public have perceived these communications.
Effective communication is essential in managing a pandemic, as it can help to prevent the spread of the disease and ensure that people adopt preventive behaviors. The results of this study provide insight into the communication challenges that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these challenges were addressed.
Key Findings Discussed
One of the key findings of this study was the importance of accuracy and credibility in communication about COVID-19.
The rapid evolution of knowledge about the virus and its uncertainties made it challenging to communicate reliable information to the public.
This highlights the need for careful and thorough vetting of information before it is disseminated to the public and the importance of ongoing monitoring and updating of this information.
Other issues the study found
The study also identified issues with paternalism, stigmatization, and promoting action and mobilization among specific subpopulations as challenges in communication about COVID-19.
These challenges highlight the need for inclusive and sensitive communication strategies that consider the needs and concerns of different public groups.
Overall, this study highlights the importance of effective communication in managing a pandemic and the challenges that can arise in implementing it. It provides valuable insights into how these challenges can be addressed and can inform future communication efforts in similar situations.
Dubé, È., Labbé, F., Malo, B., & Pelletier, C. (2022). Public health communication during the COVID-19 pandemic: Perspectives of communication specialists, healthcare professionals, and community members in Quebec, Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 113, 24-33. doi:https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-022-00697-7