A face mask hanging from a car's rear view mirror

Healthcare communications and information distortion in crisis situations: The case of COVID-19 in Merseyside

The project aims to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on communities in Merseyside by analysing the official healthcare messages, news media releases, public forums and social media posts to understand public reactions to official information and guidance and the concerns and issues which were raised as a result.

Specifically, the language, images and videos which circulated during the pandemic and the ways in which information was distorted, either unintentionally or deliberately, are being studied. The views and emotions expressed in the communications will be interpreted according to contextual factors (for example, spatial location, population data, vaccination rates) at key times during the pandemic.

The approach involves using the LED display to layer and analyse the different communications on a virtual 3D map of Liverpool City Region. The goal is to improve the ways in which information and guidance are provided to communities, and to address public concerns as they arise in the future. In addition, the project will result in new ways of detecting misleading content so communities are well placed to make informed decisions during times of extreme risk. 

The project is led by Professor Kay O’Halloran, from the Department of Communication and Media and Co-Director of the Digital Media & Society Institute (DMSI), University of Liverpool. The research team members are: Professor Simeon Yates, Department of Communication and Media and Co-Director of the Digital Media & Society Institute (DMSI), University of Liverpool; Dr Mark Pogson, Department of Communication and Media and Digital Media & Society Institute (DMSI), University of Liverpool; Dr Konstantin Vikhorev, Digital Innovation Facility (DIF), University of Liverpool; Professor Alex Singleton, Department of Geography and Planning, Director of the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) and Director of the ESRC Data Analytics & Society CDT, University of Liverpool; Dr Francisco Rowe, Department of Geography and Planning and Director of the Geographic Data Science Lab, University of Liverpool; and Professor Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health, Liverpool City Council.

The project is funded by AVIVA through The Pandemic Institute, University of Liverpool.

Back to: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences