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Cross-cultural approaches to "living with COVID"

Your personal experiences of the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic are likely to be different depending on where you live, and whether you have a disability or not. These are the questions that funding from the Global Research Priorities program at the University of Warwick has allowed me and my PhD supervisor, Prof Robin Goodwin, to begin to answer.

We collected information from a sample of 1000 members of the UK general population focusing on attitudes behavioural responses towards the omicron variant of the coronavirus, in July 2022. We were interested in perceived effectiveness of the government’s approach to living with the virus, perceptions of the trustworthiness of the government, perceived self-efficacy, and access to social support, as well as changes in access to personal resources as a result of COVID (including finances, social opportunities, and personal relationships). We wanted to see how these would be associated with continued engagement with mitigation strategies, and mental health status.

Relatedly, we also wanted to understand how individuals with disabilities living in the UK, may have different responses to Omicron than the general population of people without disabilities. Indeed, in our previous work (Kang & Goodwin, 2022) we have shown that when the legal mandate for protective behaviours was removed in England in 2021, people with disabilities were more cautious, and more anxious than the general population. We wanted to extend our previous findings considering the emergence of the Omicron variant amongst those with and without disabilities in the UK.

Attitudes and responses to the omicron variant, national level mitigation strategies, and mental health outcomes, are likely to vary across the world. For this reason we are collaborating in this research with Prof Joseph T F Lau (Centre for Health Behaviours Research, Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dr Yanqiu Yu (Department of Preventive Medicine and Health Education, School of Public Health, Fudan University, China) and colleagues in Thailand (Drs. Watakakosol, Panrapee, Wiwattanapantuwong, Suttiwan at Chulalongkorn University) to understand how the responses of the UK population differ from those of people living in Hong Kong and Thailand. Colleagues in Hong Kong and Thailand collected parallel data on a jointly prepared question schedule (Ns 800 and 1000 in the two countries respectively), with separate funding for this secured in each country. Of course, Hong Kong had a far stricter coronavirus control policy than either the UK or Thailand at the time of data collection.

Data analysis for both projects is currently underway. We are very grateful to the Global Research Priorities program for their financial assistance.

Kang, T. S., & Goodwin, R. (2022). Legal restrictions and mitigation strategies amongst a disabled population during COVID-19. Social Science & Medicine, 305, 115051.

See funding pageLink opens in a new window for information on Connecting Cultures GRP's latest funding call.

Robin Goodwin, PhDLink opens in a new window is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Warwick.

Tarandeep S. Kang, MSc, MRes Link opens in a new windowis a PhD Student in the Department of Psychology at The University of Warwick.