On Monday 7 June 2021, we attended the Public Health, Communication and Healthcare Knowledge Exchange Workshop, run by Pascale, Des and Rachel from the Pandemic and Beyond Project.

The Pandemic and Beyond project from University of Exeter is coordinating COVID-19 UKRI AHRC-funded projects, so this was an exciting opportunity to hear from other projects looking at communications during the pandemic, reflecting collectively about connections between projects and shared narratives.

For us, an important discussion was the challenge of doing research in a fast changing environment, and how this affects COVID-19 research projects. For our project, this meant expanding the context of use under examination (from home testing to testing in the workplace or community testing centres) and stakeholder groups. Our initial focus on patients self-administering tests at home has expanded to look at the delivery of a larger service: this means engaging and hearing from people who operate tests for others, provide information and supervise test takers, and those who organise the environments in which testing takes place.

Other pertinent issue was the work with stakeholders, and how Covid has re-wired the way we consider and categorise stakeholders. In regards to our project, groups which may never before had been considered as stakeholders for risk management issues are now affected by the need to organise testing, look out for transmission in the workplace – and therefore a need for inclusive and effective user instructions.

As was pointed out in the workshop, the research projects we heard from yesterday are all contributing to providing a backstory for communications during the pandemic, that will help us understand how communications are received, understood by people during this time, and what proves effective to change behaviour.

A big thank you to the organisers. More information on the projects on the Pandemic and Beyond website.