How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

Researchers: Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen | Dr Richard Fletcher

Project overview


This project will analyse how the UK public navigates information and misinformation about coronavirus (COVID-19) and about the government’s response to the pandemic.

Alongside the coronavirus pandemic, societies are experiencing what the World Health Organisation has termed an ‘infodemic’. Information from public authorities is often filtered through editorialised news media and the algorithmic curation of social media. This research will track the evolving situation in real time and determine the factors that influence how informed people are, providing vital insight into:

  • How people find information about coronavirus and about responses to it
  • What sources of information they find the most credible, and whether they are concerned about misinformation
  • How knowledgeable people are about basic facts about the virus
  • How people are responding to the pandemic on the basis of this information

By using a nationally representative survey sample, the researchers will be able to control for the importance of factors like age, gender, education and political orientation in how people access and process information about the pandemic.

The project began in April 2020 and will initially run for six months, with the researchers documenting and analysing the findings in real time. The research will take place through ten fortnightly waves, with data collected through a series of online surveys in which the same respondents are asked questions over time. To allow for the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic and government responses, the panel surveys will be supplemented with shorter surveys asking topical questions about key events. The surveys will be designed by the research team and fielded online by YouGov, who maintain a very large pool of active survey respondents and can provide a sample representative of the UK population in age, gender, region and education. Ten fortnightly surveys will be carried out across a period of 20 weeks, with the expectation of retaining a minimum of 1000 respondents through all waves, achieving a reasonable margin of error and a robust base for the analysis of different demographic groups. The researchers are also monitoring key sources of online news and information about the coronavirus.

This research will provide timely data and analysis while the coronavirus crisis is still ongoing. The findings of each wave of the study will be made publicly available on the Reuters Institute website and will be promoted through social media and newsletters. The findings will be shared with key decision-makers in government, news media and the technology industry, all of whom the researchers have a long record of working with on issues around information quality and media use. The final conclusions will be published in several detailed public reports.

Team


  • Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen
    Reuters Institute, University of Oxford
  • Dr Richard Fletcher
    Reuters Institute, University of Oxford

  • Programme Head, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

Explore our projects

Woman-medical-professional-treats-patient-impact-MSK-conditions-outcomes-other-illnesses-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses

View project
Female-nurse-sees-patient-in-office-Integrating-enriched-longitudinal-data-North-Staffordshire-Stoke-on-Trent-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2024

Enriched data integration for population musculoskeletal health intelligence

View project
Older-man-and-woman-walk-together-Geographical-mapping-prevalence-outcomes-MSK-conditions-Wales-Scotland-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Mapping rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease in Scotland and Wales

View project
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

View project
Older-man-reads-textbook-Assembling-data-jigsaw-Greater-Manchester-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2023

Assembling the data jigsaw: powering robust population research in MSK disease

View project
Senior-woman-enjoys-video-call-on-smartphone-Social-cohesion-in-context-of-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Social cohesion in the context of COVID-19

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

View project
Woman-looks-at-smartphone-screen-How-the-UK-public-gets-information-about-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2020

How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

View project
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2021

COVID-19 and families on a low income: poverty in the pandemic

View project
Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
Father-working-from-home-while-his-two-children-do-schoolwork-nearby-COVID-19-social-study-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

COVID-19 social study

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

View project
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

View project
Senior-woman-enjoys-video-call-on-smartphone-Social-cohesion-in-context-of-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Social cohesion in the context of COVID-19

View project
Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Growing up under COVID-19

View project
Young-boy-wearing-glasses-watches-laptop-school-lesson-with-notepad-The-effects-COVID-19-on-families-time-use-child-development-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 - 2022

The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

View project
Father-working-from-home-while-his-two-children-do-schoolwork-nearby-COVID-19-social-study-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

COVID-19 social study

View project
Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2021

COVID-19 and families on a low income: poverty in the pandemic

View project
Woman-looks-at-smartphone-screen-How-the-UK-public-gets-information-about-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2020

How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

View project
Woman-medical-professional-treats-patient-impact-MSK-conditions-outcomes-other-illnesses-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses

View project
Man-massages-own-hand-Longitudinal-evidence-how-arthritis-affects-earnings-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

How arthritis affects earnings over time

View project
Medical-professional-massages-patient-knee-Understanding-joint-replacement-surgery-decision-making-for-older-patients-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Supporting older patients to make informed decisions about knee surgery

View project
Woman-medical-professional-treats-patient-impact-MSK-conditions-outcomes-other-illnesses-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

The impact of musculoskeletal conditions on outcomes of other illnesses

View project
Female-nurse-sees-patient-in-office-Integrating-enriched-longitudinal-data-North-Staffordshire-Stoke-on-Trent-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2024

Enriched data integration for population musculoskeletal health intelligence

View project
Older-man-and-woman-walk-together-Geographical-mapping-prevalence-outcomes-MSK-conditions-Wales-Scotland-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Mapping rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease in Scotland and Wales

View project
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Older people in England: the geography of challenges and opportunities

View project
Senior-woman-enjoys-video-call-on-smartphone-Social-cohesion-in-context-of-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Social cohesion in the context of COVID-19

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2020

The impact of COVID-19 on mainstream schools in England

View project
Older-man-reads-textbook-Assembling-data-jigsaw-Greater-Manchester-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2023

Assembling the data jigsaw: powering robust population research in MSK disease

View project
Medical-professional-massages-patient-knee-Understanding-joint-replacement-surgery-decision-making-for-older-patients-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2022

Supporting older patients to make informed decisions about knee surgery

View project
Teenage-girl-looks-at-smartphone-next-to-laptop-Growing-up-under-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Education | Welfare | 2020 - 2021

Growing up under COVID-19

View project
New

Education | 2020 - 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

View project
Woman-looks-at-smartphone-screen-How-the-UK-public-gets-information-about-COVID-19-PROJ
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2020

How the UK public gets information about COVID-19

View project
New

Welfare | 2020 - 2021

COVID-19 and families on a low income: poverty in the pandemic

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2019 - 2020

Valuing data: foundations for data policy

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2019 - 2020

Revaluation and reform: bringing council tax into the 21st century

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Atlas of inequality: understanding the local nature of a global phenomenon

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2018 - 2018

Interdisciplinary conference on evidence use in policy

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Overview of the major ethical issues arising from data, algorithms and AI

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2018 - 2018

Improving survey representation of non-resident parents

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Pathways of incarcerated children in care

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2018 - 2018

Council tax support schemes’ impact on claimants & local authorities

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Visualising data in care proceedings

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 - 2018

Growing up digital

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Addressing the ‘care cases’ crisis: a sector-led review

View project
Reported

Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Vulnerable migrants and well-being: A pilot study

View project
Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

Profile