New paper: Qualitative Analysis of the COVID-19 Discussion on HIFA

27 May, 2022

The HIFA working group on COVID-19 is delighted to announce a new publication based on the longest-ever discussion thread in HIFA's history: 865 posts between January 24 and October 31, 2020, from 246 HIFA members worldwide. (Indeed the thread continues to this day and now stands at 1,464 messages. Join HIFA to continue the discussion)

Below are the citation and abstract, and the full paper is freely available here

CITATION: Gangireddy R, Chakraborty S, Pakenham-Walsh N, Nagarajan B, Krishan P, McGuire R, Vaghela G, Sriharan A. Themes Surrounding COVID-19 and Its Infodemic: Qualitative Analysis of the COVID-19 Discussion on the Multidisciplinary Healthcare Information for All Health Forum
JMIR Infodemiology 2022;2(1):e30167 

Background: Healthcare Information for All (HIFA) is a multidisciplinary global campaign consisting of more than 20,000 members worldwide committed to improving the availability and use of health care information in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). During the COVID-19 pandemic, online HIFA forums saw a tremendous amount of discussion regarding the lack of information about COVID-19, the spread of misinformation, and the pandemic’s impact on different communities.

Objective: This study aims to analyze the themes and perspectives shared in the COVID-19 discussion on English HIFA forums.

Methods: Over a period of 8 months, a qualitative thematic content analysis of the COVID-19 discussion on English HIFA forums was conducted. In total, 865 posts between January 24 and October 31, 2020, from 246 unique study participants were included and analyzed.

Results: In total, 6 major themes were identified: infodemic, health system, digital health literacy, economic consequences, marginalized peoples, and mental health. The geographical distribution of study participants involved in the discussion spanned across 46 different countries in every continent except Antarctica. Study participants’ professions included public health workers, health care providers, and researchers, among others. Study participants’ affiliation included nongovernment organizations (NGOs), commercial organizations, academic institutions, the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO), and others.

Conclusions: The themes that emerged from this analysis highlight personal recounts, reflections, suggestions, and evidence around addressing COVID-19 related misinformation and might also help to understand the timeline of information evolution, focus, and needs surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

As stated in the paper, 'We would like to acknowledge the contributions of all members of the Healthcare Information for All (HIFA) forums for actively engaging in taking the discussion forward as well as for sharing their perspectives, ongoing work, solutions, and resources related to the global efforts in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.' Thank you also to the Global Health Academy at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, for their ongoing support of HIFA COVID-19 discussions, and to the University of Toronto for generously covering the author processing charge.

Read more about the work of the HIFA COVID-19 working group here