By Isabella Ferguson, SciTech Subeditor
Following the launch of their survey in 2020, researchers from CON-QUEST are looking for more participants to continue their study of COVID-19 on campus
Social bubbles and online learning are slowly becoming a thing of the past on university campuses, but why must COVID-19 still be researched in a university environment?
The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for a student is wildly different to that of the general population, yet this area of behavioural research has hardly been tapped into. The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute at the University of Bristol has funded CON-QUEST, a longitudinal research study looking at contact patterns of behaviour between staff and students during the pandemic.
Dr Emily Nixon, an infectious disease modeller, established this study alongside a team of researchers in the summer of 2020; the resulting data has since been used to inform government policy concerned with the safety of higher education during the pandemic.
The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for a student is wildly different to that of the general population
Lead researcher Dr Nixon stated that the aim of the study is to ‘help policy makers develop the most effective control strategies for infectious diseases like COVID-19. However, individuals in the academic community can have quite different social interactions to the general population.'
The survey, which was launched in June 2020, immediately had a good response from staff, and following a Comms campaign in October 2020, it began to receive a good response from students as well.
The study looks at temporal changes in these factors over time and participants receive follow-up emails to fill out the survey as a reminder to update their experience. Data from the survey has already been used in three publications and has been covered by the Times Higher Education Supplement.
Throughout the rest of the 2020/2021 academic year, the survey continued to receive a reasonably high response rate, however, since April 2021, the uptake has decreased.
Going into this new academic year, CON-QUEST are looking for more volunteer participants to fill-out the survey, so that they can continue the collection of this important data.
If you are a University of Bristol student or member of staff you can take part in the ongoing questionnaire here.
Featured Image: Epigram/Sarah Dalton
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