Hana Morrissey*, Céline Benoit, Patrick Ball, Niall Galbraith, Jennifer Lim, Christine Burt, Farooq Wandroo


Introduction: COVID-19 preventative guidance has been communicated to the public through multiple media channels and mostly in English. Aim: To gather students‟ opinions on how useful COVID-19 messages have been for them and their families and what can be done to make these better and more sensitive to people from different ethnicities, origins or sub-cultures. Method: This study is a mixed-method survey based, with university students being the target participants. The survey was online and anonymous, with two reminders sent out two weeks apart. Results: Of the 150 students only 112 completed or partially completed the survey, with 51 participants (46%) answering the demographics questions only. Of the 61 participants, 49% agreed that asking about race or ethnicity is acceptable and 44% agreed that it should continue to be collected, but 62% disagreed that the term BAME accurately described them or their families. Regarding the understandability of public health messages for their families and communities, 24.5% and 33% of participants selected „no.‟ Social distancing was not strictly observed by 46% of the participants and 38% said that it was not observed in their communities. Regarding their personal approach to wearing a face covering, 88.5% selected „yes‟, vs. 77% in the community they live in. Regarding public health messages about vaccination, being vaccinated and if the participants‟ families are vaccinated, the majority answered „yes‟ (59-61%). Regarding testing availability and uptake, the majority answered „yes‟ (59%). Finally, participants were asked to indicate if the pandemic had exerted a negative impact on them and their families; 61% selected „yes‟. Conclusion: In this study most participants indicated they consider the term BAME does not represent them. The most reported COVID-19 health impact was a decline of mental health, followed by physical health. Receiving false information, poor access and availability were factors shared by the participants for not being tested or vaccinated. Participants indicated that health sector needs to be more effective in discussing misinformation and disseminating health facts in accessible forms. Participants indicated early intervention as the major missed opportunity that might have protected their community from COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: BAME, COVID-19, Public health messages, Vaccination, face covering.

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