by Curlan Campbell
- Digicel and Flow customers received SMS messages re Covid-19 survey
- Survey to identify people’s misconceptions, understand attitudes and current practices towards Covid-19
- 383 people over the age of 18 will be targeted
- Survey can be conducted on a laptop computer or tablet device
As of Monday, 27 July 2020, mobile customers of Digicel and Flow have received SMS messages on their mobile devices to take part in a nationwide internet-based survey to determine the public’s perception and response to the coronavirus.
Dr Tonia Frame, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St George’s University (SGU), is the study’s lead principal investigator of a team of researchers. They have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to ensure the survey’s success.
This nationwide survey will also help to identify people’s misconceptions, understand attitudes and current practices towards Covid-19 as well as chronic non-communicable diseases, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and physical activity, alcohol consumption and mental health. The survey also determines how much confidence people have in the information provided by officials sources such as World Health Organisation (WHO), Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Grenada’s Ministry of Health.
383 people over the age of 18 will be targeted to complete this survey. The information will be analysed by CARPHA consultant Dr Shelly Rodrigo who is based in Trinidad and Tobago, before presenting the findings with officials from the Ministry of Health. The team includes Christine Richards, PhD, MPH, Interim Chair, Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine; and Dr Sonia Nixon, whose initial idea helped to birth this survey.
“We promise to share with the Ministry of Health, the preliminary analyses so they can then use the information to hopefully make changes to their policy decision and educational outreach campaigns that go out to the public about ways to prevent Covid-19 as well as publish the information so that the wider Caribbean and the world can have access to see what’s happening in Grenada.” Dr Frame said.
Apart from the SMS messages to gather information, the investigators will be directly contacting people with landlines to conduct the survey. “We also have a dedicated bunch of research assistants, young people who will be calling people’s landline phones and asking them to complete the survey. We want to reach a wide cross-section fo the population so our elderly people and people who are not comfortable using the technology will have an opportunity to take part in the survey,” said Dr Frame.
After a 6-week period from the start of the survey, participants will be again contacted as a follow-up session to see whether their knowledge, attitudes and practices have changed over time. “The way that the survey is designed is not just to give us information about what people think and how they are behaving but it also allows us to see if there are any changes made within the healthcare system that could potentially impact how people think and feel about Covid-19”, she said.
The social and psychological effects of Covid-19 on the population will also be analysed as part of the survey to provide targeted interventions. “We are trying to set up a team of psychologists who can provide counselling services for anybody who took part in the survey that might have any type of emotional stress as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr Frame said.
The survey is to be conducted throughout the OECS countries with the inclusion of 2 none-OECS countries, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr Frame assures the public that the personal information they provide will be kept confidential. The public is also advised that it will more convenient to conduct the survey on a laptop computer or a tablet device rather than a mobile phones since it will be much easier to navigate and read the questions.
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