To guide decision making, it has been important to understand Australians’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated public health measures used to control disease transmission.
Our team was a key contributor to a partnership project called Optimise led by Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. One of our key contributions was the COVID Attitudes, Resilience and Epidemiology (CARE) study, led by Dr Freya Shearer from Melbourne School of Population and Global Health with support from other colleagues in the Doherty Institute. Two nationally representative surveys were carried out in April and May 2020 prior to involvement in the Optimise study. Approximately 1000 Australians aged >18 years responded to the first two surveys (71.8% completed both) and results were weighted to be representative of the adult population in Australia. Subsequent surveys, conducted as part of the Optimise study, involved a Victorian representative sample and were conducted in September 2020, July 2021, September 2021, December 2021 and April 2022. As part of the September 2020 survey, Victorians from non-English speaking backgrounds were deliberately oversampled, and completed the survey with the help of a bilingual interviewer.
Knowledge translation and impact
Survey results were released as a series of rapid reports, and key findings were disseminated to relevant government contacts. Certain variables fed directly into the disease prediction models used to inform decision making at the federal level, through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. A policy brief of the Victorian specific September 2020 results were disseminated to the Victorian Chief and Deputy Health Officers, to inform decision making related to easing restrictions in late September.
- Distancing measures in the face of COVID-19 in Australia: Summary of National Survey Findings. Survey report 1, May 2020
- Promoting resilience while mitigating disease transmission: An Australian COVID-19 study. Shearer et al Book Chapter, 2021. DOI: 10.1201/9781003181590-30
- Distancing measures in the face of COVID-19 in Australia: Summary of National Survey Findings. Survey report 2, July 2020
- CARE Report 3, COVID-19 Attitudes, Practices and Impacts: The Victorian Experience. Report to the Victorian Department of Health, October 2020
- CARE Report 4 and Appendix. Report to the Victorian Department of Health, August 2021
- CARE Report 5 and Appendix. Report to the Victorian Department of Health, November 2021
- CARE Survey 6: Report to the Victorian Department of Health, December 2021
- COVID-19 symptoms and testing
- COVID-19 vaccination
- Public health & safety measures
- Mental health & wellbeing
- CARE Survey 7. Report to the Victorian Department of Health, June 2022
The Optimise and CARE studies were funded from various sources including contributions from the COVID-19 Victorian Consortium, the Victorian State Government, Macquarie Group Foundation, Burnet Institute, Doherty Institute and University of Melbourne, with additional support from philanthropic donations.
- Contact Name
- Professor Lisa Gibbs