COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring

(COSMO Canada)

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


To support federal response efforts, Impact Canada is leading the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Behavioural Insights (BI) Tool on COVID-19 in the Canadian context. This work is led in collaboration with the Public Opinion Research Team within the Privy Council Office’s (PCO) Communications and Consultation Secretariat, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office in coordinating government communications in accordance with key priorities.

Insights from COSMO inform the federal response to COVID-19 and enable whole-of-government decision making to meet the specific, changing needs of citizens. Data visualizations are published here for citizens and organizations alike to keep a pulse on evolving, nationwide trends.


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.


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.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the overall purpose of the study?

    To use data collected from an online survey to inform COVID-19 response efforts, including policy, interventions and communications.
  • What is the focus of the study?

    Overall, research questions relate to:

    • How changes in risk perceptions may relate to knowledge and misinformation;
    • Whether participants report that they are aware of specific response measures and whether being aware of them influences risk perceptions;
    • Whether risk perceptions are related to preparedness and the use of protective behaviours;
    • Knowledge and misinformation about preparedness and preventive measures and whether the level of knowledge is related to certain sources of information; and
    • Reactions to announcements and programs from the Government of Canada to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak, and its associated effects.
  • How is the study being carried out?

    A 15 minute web survey is issued every 2 to 8 weeks to a group of randomly recruited adult Canadians (18 years of age and older). The same participants are surveyed each time. New participants are added only when an original participant stops participating. The group of participants consists of 50% women and 50% men for each age group (18 to 34; 35 to 54; 55+), and for each region:

    • Atlantic Canada (Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick);
    • Quebec;
    • Ontario;
    • Manitoba/Saskatchewan;
    • Alberta/Northwest Territories;
    • British Columbia/Yukon.

    Participants are informed of their rights under the Privacy Act, Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and Access to Information Act. These rights will be protected throughout the research process.

  • Where can I find the study protocol?

    The study protocol and adapted questionnaire is published on the PsychArchives repository, as recommended by the WHO.
  • Where can I find the results?

    Partial results will be published as they become available (without disclosing data provided by each participant), in the form of tables and figures, following collection and analysis, on the Impact Canada website for Canadians to view. The data will also be available to the public through Library and Archives Canada.

Data Collection Waves

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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.

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?

We’re also preparing to advance a second phase of data collection, extending the project into 2022!

Contact us

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

Email us