How do health consumers interpret and apply health information during a pandemic?: a two-phase qualitative study using in-depth interviews and the think aloud method.

Overview: Health Literacy describes an individual’s ability and motivation to understand and use information to promote and maintain good health. The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), and the Australian government’s rapidly changing restrictions, has required individuals to acquire, interpret and apply information to their context and to adjust their behaviour at an unprecedented pace. Low levels of health literacy have also been associated with having multiple co-morbidities. Consumers with chronic conditions are particularly vulnerable to misinterpreting information during COVID-19. Emerging epidemiology research has shown that having a chronic condition significantly increases the risk of dying from the virus.   Understanding the sources of information where the most vulnerable individuals use during a pandemic, how they assess its credibility and trustworthiness and apply it to their own situation, may assist health service providers and politicians in developing future communication strategies.   The primary aim of this research is to determine where the highest health system users at Northern Health source their information about COVID19, whether they interpret and apply this information as intended, and how they determine the trustworthiness of the information. The secondary aim is to determine how these individuals have continued to utilise health services during the pandemic and whether there is any association between their access and use of information and their subsequent use of health services. The project is primarily led by Dr. Jessup (affiliate member of CRE) and other associated investigators across different disciplines and institutes.        
Project Team MembersDr Rebecca Jessup, Northern Health ,Dr Michael Kirk, Northern Health
Dr Alison Beauchamp, Monash University,Ms Cassandra Bramston, Northern Health, Dr Adam Semciw, Northern Health, Professor Brian Oldenburg, University of Melbourne
Mr Mark Tacey, Northern Health, Ms Stefania Zen, Northern Health, Mr Emiliano Zucchi, Northern Health, Ms Natali Cvetanovska, Northern Health, Professor Donald Campbell, Northern Health, Dr Cilla Haywood, Northern Health, Dr Tilahun Haregu, University of Melbourne, Dr Yingting (Tina) Cao, University of Melbourne