COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring

(COSMO Canada)

Implementing the WHO Behavioural Insights tool on COVID-19 to inform response efforts, including policy, interventions and communications.

Background

From April 2020 to November 2021, Impact Canada led the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Behavioural Insights (BI) Tool on COVID-19 in the Canadian context. This study - COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring (COSMO Canada) - was conducted in collaboration with the Public Opinion Research Team at the Privy Council Office.

Insights from COSMO Phase One informed the federal response to COVID-19 and enabled whole-of-government decision making to meet the specific, changing needs of citizens throughout the pandemic. The first phase of the study collected data across sixteen waves spanning April 2020 to November 2021, with results of these studies shared on the Impact Canada public website.

In February 2022, Impact Canada launched the second phase of the COSMO study in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Public Opinion Research Team at the Privy Council Office. The second phase will continue to monitor the evolving pandemic response context with a new sample of Canadians and a new Advisory Committee.

Methodology

  • Phase 1

    With a longitudinal design, the study follows 2,000 participants recruited from an online panel over sixteen data collection waves. New participants are added only when an original panelist stops participating.

    Respondents are a representative mix of Canadian adults aged 18 years and older and results are weighted using 2016 Statistics Canada census data to mirror the population distribution in Canada.

    Advisory bodies

    World Health Organisation, Impact Canada, Privy Council Office Public Opinion Research, and Canadian academic advisory committee with experts in public health, behavioural science and epidemiology.

    Survey

    Both quantitative and qualitative questions to examine citizens’ perceptions of risk; trust in health authorities and recommendations; acceptance of recommended health behaviours; barriers/drivers to recommended behaviours; and knowledge and misperceptions related to COVID-19.

    Data collection

    Approximately 2000 participants; consisting of 50% women and 50% men for each age group (18 to 34; 35 to 54; 55+) and for each region; data also captures citizens’ employment status pre and post COVID-19, level of education and size of community; collected through a rolling poll with 16 waves of data collection between April 2020 and November 2021.

    Data Analysis

    Impact Canada conducts exploratory data analyses examining descriptive & inferential statistics to identify emerging trends.

    Dissemination

    Publishing on the Impact Canada website, sharing with Government of Canada and the Province/Territory communities. The data will also be available to the public through Library and Archives Canada.

  • Phase 2

    With a longitudinal design, the study follows 1,500 participants recruited from an online panel over eight waves of data collection. Respondents are a representative mix of Canadian adults aged 18 years and older and results are weighted using 2016 Statistics Canada census data to mirror the population distribution in Canada. The study will also include cross-sectional oversamples of underrepresented populations and other specific populations of interest. More more information on the study methodology, please visit the COSMO Canada pre-registration page.

    Advisory bodies

    World Health Organization, Impact Canada, Privy Council Office Public Opinion Research, multiple Government of Canada departments, and an external advisory committee.

    Survey

    Both quantitative and qualitative questions to examine citizens’ perceptions of risk; trust in health authorities and recommendations; acceptance of recommended health behaviours; barriers/drivers to recommended behaviours; and knowledge and misperceptions related to COVID-19.

    Data Analysis

    Impact Canada conducts exploratory data analyses examining descriptive & inferential statistics to identify emerging trends.

    Dissemination

    Publishing on the Impact Canada website, sharing with the Government of Canada and the Province/Territory communities. The data will also be available to the public through Library and Archives Canada at the conclusion of the study.

Phase Two Advisory Committee

Impact Canada is excited to announce COSMO Canada’s Phase Two Advisory Committee. The committee consists of subject matter experts from a diverse range of backgrounds, including: infectious disease, behavioural science, public health, epidemiology, mental health, misinformation, and survey-based academic research.

  • Meet the Advisory Committee

    Dr. Cora Constantinescu

    Pediatrician and an infectious disease physician in Calgary, Alberta

    • Full bio

      Dr. Cora Constantinescu is a pediatrician and an infectious disease physician in Calgary, Alberta. From seeing vaccine hesitant patients in clinic, to her academic pursuits in vaccine acceptance and surveillance, she has a strong passion for vaccine research and promotion. She holds a Masters in Medical Education and a medical educator appointment with the University of Calgary. She leads the 19tozero healthcare worker education team and continues to be a vaccine advocate at the local and national levels.

    Sarah Kennell

    National Director, Public Policy with the Canadian Mental Health Association

    • Full bio

      Sarah Kennell is the National Director, Public Policy with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Within this role, Sarah drives CMHA’s federal advocacy towards mental health systems change. Sarah leads the development of strategic initiatives, alongside a team of research, policy and government relations experts. Sarah sits on the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) Advocacy Working Group, the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Collaborative Data and Research Working Group, among other multi-stakeholder coalitions. Sarah was formerly the Director of Government Relations with Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (Planned Parenthood Canada). Sarah has experience engaging with international human rights accountability mechanisms, holding governments accountable to their human rights obligations and leading feminist advocacy coalitions. Sarah has held positions with the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Global Affairs Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada. Sarah holds a Masters’ degree in International Development, Globalization and Women’s Studies.

    Dr. Shannon MacDonald

    Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing and an adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and the Department of pediatrics at the University of Calgary

    • Full bio

      Dr. Shannon MacDonald, RN, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing and an adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and the Department of pediatrics at the University of Calgary. Her clinical background is in pediatric nursing, with research training in nursing, public health, and epidemiology. Her research focuses on supporting immunization best practice and policies and she has a particular interest in addressing system-level barriers and supports to achieving high immunization coverage in under-served populations. She leads an interdisciplinary research team that works with vaccine policy advisors, program administrators, and clinicians to address real-world questions to inform best practice and policy.

    Dr. Eric Merkley

    Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto

    • Full bio

      Dr. Eric Merkley (PhD, UBC) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He previously acted as the Lead Survey Analyst of the Digital Democracy Project, an interdisciplinary research team that monitored public opinion, misinformation, and media ecosystem health during the 2019 Canadian federal election, as well as the Research Lead of the Media Ecosystem Observatory, a research team that monitored Canadian adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic through weekly surveys between March 2020 and July 2021.

      Eric’s research is focused on the individual and contextual factors that shape people’s attitudes towards areas of expert consensus and behavioural compliance with public health recommendations, with a current focus on COVID-19. He also has an ongoing project related to the causes and consequences of mass polarization in Canada and other Western democracies. Over the past few years, he has published two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles in leading scholarly outlets like Nature Human Behaviour, the British Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication, JAMA Network Open, and the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

    Dr. Gordon Pennycook

    Assistant Professor at University of Regina's Hill/Levene Schools of Business

    • Full bio

      Gordon Pennycook is an Assistant Professor at University of Regina's Hill/Levene Schools of Business. His expertise is human reasoning and decision-making. He obtained his PhD in Cognitive Psychology in 2016 at the University of Waterloo. Prior to starting at the University of Regina in 2018, he held a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University. He has published 85 peer-reviewed articles, including in journals such as Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Nature Human Behavior, and Trends in Cognitive Science. He has received several awards, such as the Governor General’s Gold Medal, Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network “Researcher of the Year”, Vincent Di Lollo Early Career Achievement Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science, and the Psychonomic Society’s Early Career Award. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists in 2020.

    Anjum Sultana

    Director of Youth Leadership and Policy Advocacy at Plan International Canada

    • Full bio

      Anjum Sultana (She/Her) is an award-winning public affairs strategist and published health equity researcher with expertise in gender equity, public health, youth engagement and civic engagement. Anjum has over a decade of experience in leadership, governance, research, strategic communications, public policy, and program management.

      Currently, Anjum serves as the inaugural Director of Youth Leadership and Policy Advocacy at Plan International Canada, one of Canada's largest global health and humanitarian aid charities. Anjum is also a Fellow with the Public Policy Forum, represents Canada at the W20, and is a member of the Banff Forum. Anjum previously served as the National Director of Public Policy, Advocacy, & Strategic Communications at YWCA Canada.

      Anjum represented Canada at the 2019 G7 Youth Summit in Paris, France. She is a member of the Toronto Hub in the Global Shapers community, an organization affiliated with the World Economic Forum. Anjum is the Founder of Millennial Women in Policy, a Founding Advisor with Progress Toronto, a member of several advisory committees and serves as an Executive on the Boards of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), Regent Park Community Health Centre and Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).

      Anjum holds a Masters of Public Health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and a Certificate in Sustainable Business Strategy from Harvard Business School.

Data Collection Waves

Rapid antigen test

Nov 16 - 22, 2021

COSMO Wave 16

COSMO Wave 16 included new questions about booster dose intentions, vaccines for children, and the use of rapid tests.

 View report
smartphone with icons for social media

Aug 12 - 16, 2021

COSMO Wave 15

COSMO Wave 15 included new questions about second dose intentions and parental intentions to vaccinate their children. Wave 15 also featured a randomized-control trial designed to test whether or not respondents are willing to share false headlines related to COVID-19 on social media.

 View report
hand on a window

June 23 - 29, 2021

COSMO Wave 14

COSMO Wave 14 included new questions related to Canada’s eventual ‘re-opening’, such as when respondents expect specific measures to be lifted, whether they anticipate day-to-day life will resemble pre-pandemic times in the near future, and their sentiments (e.g., optimism, anxiety) towards restrictions easing.

 View report
two people wearing masks

May 5 – 12, 2021

COSMO Wave 13

With a growing segment of respondents partially or fully immunized against COVID-19, COSMO Wave 13 included new questions related to vaccination experience, as well as perceptions of safe behaviours post-vaccination, and intentions to continue to adhere to public health measures.

 View report
closeup of someone being vaccinated

Mar 17 – 23, 2021

COSMO Wave 12

COSMO Wave 12 included new questions related to vaccines, including a series of questions related to brand preference. In addition, based on findings from a series of academic literature reviews, several new scales were added that were found to be meaningful predictors of vaccine intentions and susceptibility to misinformation, including religiosity, numeracy, scientific knowledge, and psychological reactance.

 View report
band-aid on a vaccinated shoulder

Feb 9 – 16, 2021

COSMO Wave 11

COSMO Wave 11 included new questions on vaccine intentions, including whether respondents had already received a COVID-19 vaccine and what elements of the vaccine were most important to respondents (i.e., no side effects, most effective). Wave 11 also included new questions about Spring break travel intentions, interventions to reduce the risk of imported COVID-19 cases, and delved deeper into the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

 View report
man sitting against a wall

Dec 16 – 22, 2020

COSMO Wave 10

COSMO Wave 10 included additional questions on misinformation and disinformation, pandemic fatigue, holiday gatherings, and vaccinations.

 View report
Covid alert app icon on cell phone

Nov 2 - 9, 2020

COSMO Wave 9

COSMO Wave 9 included new questions on vaccine intentions, misinformation and disinformation, use of the COVID-19 Alert App, COVID-19 testing, and holiday gatherings.

 View report
hand holding a wine glass

Sep 15 - 20, 2020

COSMO Wave 8

COSMO Wave 8 focused on vaccine confidence and vaccine hesitancy along with a focus on the harms and risk associated with increased alcohol use.

 View report
Emojis displaying different emotions about vaccines

Aug 13 - 17, 2020

COSMO Wave 7

COSMO wave 7 included an increased focus on Canadians' knowledge and attitudes related to vaccines, intentions to get an influenza shot in the fall/winter, and a look at the use of alcohol and other substances.

 View report
empty seats on an airplane

July 17 - 22, 2020

COSMO Wave 6

COSMO Wave 6 had a continued focus on vaccine hesitancy, returning to “normal” behaviours, travel intentions, and pandemic fatigue, along with the reopening of the economy and its associated impacts.

 View report
Open suitcase on floor and two hands holding hand sanitizer, a passport and medical masks.

June 23 - 28, 2020

COSMO Wave 5

COSMO Wave 5 included a continued focus on vaccine confidence, returning to "normal" behaviours, travel intentions, pandemic fatigue, along with the reopening of the economy and its associated impacts. Additional questions were added to better understand Canadians' perceptions of the process for border crossing, including intentions to cross, purpose of travel, preferred transportation modes and ports of entry, and perceptions of appropriate approaches and timelines for reopening CAN-USA and international borders.

 View report
Family working from home at the dinner table

May 26 - June 1, 2020

COSMO Wave 4

COSMO Wave 4 included questions on how behaviours have shifted in balancing work and family priorities throughout this time of transition. Questions that focused on the experiences of small and medium business owners were also included in this wave.

 View report
Young school girl holding a Canadian flag, wearing a medical mask and standing in front of two school buses.

May 5 - 10, 2020

COSMO Wave 3

COSMO Wave 3 included additional questions on when and how restriction measures should be relaxed, changes to existing behavioural routines during the pandemic, and degree of comfort with returning to somewhat normal routines and/or behaviours over time. Wave 3 also collected information on government benefit uptake (e.g. Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Business Account).

 View report
Woman staring off into the distance

April 21 - 25, 2020

COSMO Wave 2

COSMO Wave 2 included questions that focused on perceptions about ongoing mental health and wellbeing challenges Canadians may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19, as well as the impact that the pandemic may have on socializing behaviours in the longer-term.

 View report
group of masked people standing against a wall

April 11-15, 2020

COSMO Wave 1

COSMO Wave 1 focused on establishing a strong baseline understanding of Canadians’ COVID-19 knowledge base (e.g., symptoms, virus spread), perceptions and attitudes.

 View report
maple leaf with faces inside

April 2020 - ongoing

COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring (COSMO)

Ongoing longitudinal study following >2,000 Canadians over the course of the pandemic to inform response efforts, including policy development, program interventions and communications strategies.

 View report

Next steps

The Impact Canada Behavioural Science team will use a series of statistical analyses to look for patterns in the data, allowing us to answer questions like:

  • How do intentions to vaccinate change over time?
  • How do changes in trust in government information sources affect changes in intentions to vaccinate over time?
  • How do individual-level characteristics (e.g., gender, baseline knowledge or anxiety, infection status) affect changes in intentions to vaccinate over time?
  • How do interactions between gender and trust in government information sources affect changes in intentions to vaccinate over time?

Contact us

To learn more or explore working with us, please contact the Impact and Innovation Unit of the Privy Council Office.

Email us