Overcoming emerging COVID19 challenges with relatable science: Developing and evaluating knowledge translation tools for families


The outbreak from the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID19) has had vast impacts on how health information is communicated, how individuals seek health information and services, and how information and services are delivered. Ensuring that families have access to essential health information is critical for improving health outcomes and adherence to public health recommendations. The pandemic has highlighted a pervasive challenge arising from the public’s lack of confidence in science and government authorities, and the crucial need for widespread dissemination of clear, transparent and research-based information. These issues are magnified in groups inordinately affected by access and language barriers. To address these gaps, we built on our experiences developing national award-winning knowledge tools that merge the best available research evidence with the power of families’ experience (narrative) and engaging art mediums (e.g., whiteboard animation videos, interactive infographics).

Objectives and Methods:

This study is currently in progress. Our goal is to develop, evaluate and disseminate innovative knowledge translation tools to increase awareness, knowledge and uptake of evidence about COVID-19 among parents and families. Our methods mirror our well-established, iterative co-development process. First, we conducted a qualitative study of parents with children who have had COVID-19 to understand their experiences, information needs, decision-making process, and the type of care they accessed and received. Concomitantly, we held focus groups with parents from diverse community groups to understand their experiences and information needs related to COVID-19 public health measures, including vaccination, mask wearing, and social distancing. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted via zoom. Data collection and thematic analysis occurred concurrently; the analysis team employed three stages during the analytic process – coding, categorizing and developing themes. Trustworthiness was ensured through iterative data collection and analysis, detailed study audit trail and investigator triangulation. Second, we will then co-create knowledge translation tools with parents, our Pediatric Parent Advisory Group, and our Pediatric Parent Consultation Network. The knowledge translation tools will build on the data from the interviews and focus groups, and merge parent experiences with the best available research evidence about COVID-19. We will conduct evaluations of our knowledge translation tools by healthcare professionals to ensure clinical accuracy. We will also conduct usability testing among a national sample of parents. 

Findings and Significance:

Our qualitative findings highlight the information needs and experiences of families with a child with COVID-19, which includes the complexities of navigating changing public health directives, managing COVID-19 in the family, the stress and anxiety incurred by parents, and the mental health effects of isolation and pandemic effects on children. This work will generate new knowledge and inform the development of tools to address the immediate public health crisis whilst having applicability and utility beyond the pandemic period. Key outputs include novel knowledge translation tools about COVID-19 that are responsive to the information needs and experiences of parents and families. These tools will be accessible to a diverse audience, including different cultural groups, and those living in rural and remote communities. Our work will impact parents and families across Canada and beyond. 

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