Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor part of CIHR study leadership team to help improve COVID-19 policy effectiveness

March 12th, 2020
Dr. Donna Halperin

StFX Rankin School of Nursing professor Dr. Donna Halperin is one of the co-principal investigators who have received a $500,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health outbreak on control policies and implementation on individuals and communities. 

The project, entitled “Understanding the effects of public health outbreak control policies and implementation on individuals and communities: a path to improving COVID-19 policy effectiveness” will examine the cultural dimensions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic such as examining how individuals and communities understand and react to the disease, studying the response of public health, and exploring how public health policy affects individuals and communities. 

While public health policies are required to control an infectious disease outbreak, these policies can adversely affect individuals and communities, says Dr. Halperin. 

Quarantine, limitations in movement and public gathering, and other restrictive measures can put a social and economic burden on individuals, which may be disproportionate, depending on their socioeconomic status and other factors. 

She says healthcare providers are both involved in administering the policy, but are also put at grave risk in caring for patients. 

Dr. Halperin says this will be a multi-province, multi-country study in Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia), Bangladesh, and China (Guangdong). 

The researchers will use qualitative methodology (document review, key informant interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (surveys) to examine policy and implementation from the public health/policy perspective as well perspectives of the media, communities, healthcare providers, patients and their caregivers, and members of the general public. 

These data will be used to improve the process by which public health policies are created and implemented.

Dr. Halperin says there is a knowledge gap about how to best integrate the perspectives of individuals and communities, particularly those with social vulnerabilities, into policy formation and implementation, creating suboptimal effectiveness of public health policies. The researchers, she says, aim to close this gap by exploring the effects of policy on communities and individuals.

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