The coronavirus pandemic presents the greatest challenge to public health in living memory. As a response to slow the spread of the virus, countries worldwide, including the UK initiated a period of strict social distancing, or lockdown. However, due to the unprecedented extent of the lockdown, its social and psychological impacts are unknown. Dr Simon Williams, of the Centre for People and Organisation at Swansea’s School of Management, and Dr Kimberly Dienes, of the Department of Psychology in the College of Human and Health Sciences, are leading a project with collaborators in the University of Manchester and the World Health Organization, exploring UK public views during the pandemic.
The research uses a mixed method approach consisting of surveys and focus groups. The research is longitudinal in design, and is following a cohort of participants in real time through the pandemic. Data collection began during week one of lockdown and is currently ongoing.
The first publication from this research project was amongst the first studies to show that lockdown was having significant mental health impacts (Williams et al., 2020a). This publication and additional publications have been cited in policy reports including UK SAGE reports on Covid-19 in further and higher education, SPI-B and two Welsh Government’s TAG reports (Williams et al., 2020b, 2021)). Dr Dienes and Dr Williams have also been invited to present to Welsh Government’s TAG, their Behavioural Insights sub-group, and Public Health Wales.
Drs Williams and Dienes were commissioned by the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru) to research public perceptions of Test Trace Protect Wales as a part of this project, and the report was presented to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee and the Minister for Health in addition to the Welsh TAG.
They are currently collaborating with Public Health Wales on a funded project looking at people’s experiences of being contacted and asked to self-isolate (“Public perceptions of Test Trace Protect Wales: Understanding and improving self-isolation adherence”).