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Survey to unearth health info practices around Covid-19 in SA

- Wits University

Various studies have been conducted to understand the issues surrounding the Corona virus, and its impact on different population groups.

However, these surveys have mostly been conducted in the Global North in contexts that are socio-economically and spatially different from South Africa. Knowledge of the trends and behaviours in the South African context is limited.

To fill this gap and to provide insight into how South Africans access and share information about Covid-19, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Wits Health Communication Research Unit (HCRU) have launched the INSIGHTS study to understand the health information practices in South Africa during Covid-19.

The multidisciplinary collaborative online survey is aimed at exploring the dynamics of access to information and information-seeking behaviours of South Africans

“Since no treatment is guaranteed to fully prevent infection or severe disease, an important part of the Covid-19 response involves targeting behavioural change. An in-depth understanding of trends in how the public seek and share COVID-19 information in the South African context, will help us to develop contextualised and effective communication strategies with bigger potential for uptake and averting public resistance,” says Dr Konosoang Sobane from the HSRC.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an ‘infodemic’ where false information and misinformation has increased amongst communities, says Jennifer Watermeyer, Wits Professor and Director of the HCRU.

“There’s so much information out there about COVID-19 and it can be difficult for people to know where to access information and what information to trust. People are accessing information about COVID-19 from all kinds of platforms – news media, social media, WhatsApp, friends, healthcare workers.”

“Successful public health responses hinge on simple, time-sensitive, proactive communication that engenders trust.”

The public is invited to complete the online anonymous survey which is available in various languages.