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COVIDisc – A focus on vector populations

This project investigates the public communication concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, especially between health organizations and individual social groups such as young adults. The project is funded within the SNF emergency support for research into corona viruses. It is a joint collaboration of researchers from the Schools of Applied Linguistics and Health Professions at ZHAW and the Institute of Public Health at Università della Svizzera italiana.

Project summary

The containment of the COVID19 pandemic relies heavily on the communication between public health organizations and individual social groups. Therefore, public discourses and discursive practices of specific audiences play a crucial role in the policy implementation during a pandemic. Through discourse analysis and qualitative interviews, the project will provide a deeper understanding of temporality and dynamics of pandemic discourses and the impact of local and regional dynamics of the pandemic on public discourses.

The project combines the analysis of mediatized and organizational discourses on the one hand with qualitative interviews conducted with representatives of the group of 15-34 year-olds in German and Italian-speaking Switzerland (“vector population”) on the other hand. This age group is highly mobile and socially active. They are less affected by the virus in terms of their health and society demands solidary behavior. It is therefore particularly important to reach this group through communication in order to contain the pandemic. It must be taken into account that communication appropriate to the target group always takes place within the many-voiced discourse of actors in politics, administration and business.

The aim of the project is to gain an understanding of the public discourse and its perception by young people in Switzerland and, based on this, to formulate communication recommendations for public health organizations. In addition, a strategy for crisis communication as well as audience and message design will be developed for the current COVID 19 pandemic and for future public health measures.

Project information

The project is funded within the SNF emergency support for research into corona viruses. It is one of 36 projects funded by the SNF to investigate societal and biomedical aspects of epidemics.

Funding 193'400 CHF
Duration 01.06.2020 – 31.05.2021
Principal investigators Philipp Dreesen (ZHAW)
Julia Dratva (ZHAW)
Peter Stücheli-Herlach (ZHAW)
Suzanne Suggs (USI)
Project team Julia Krasselt (ZHAW)
Matthias Fluor (ZHAW)
Klaus Rothenhäusler (ZHAW)
Sibylle Juvalta (ZHAW)
Camilla Speranza (USI)
Project partners Goranka Rocco (Trieste)
Further information If you would like to read more about the online survey and the interviews which will be conducted in this project, please visit the following page: https://www.zhaw.ch/gesundheit/covidisc