The main objective of the COVID narratives project is to collect the stories behind the numbers. We are interviewing people across Inland Southern California and beyond about their experiences during the pandemic with the intent of connecting these narratives to local and national health databases.
This project provides a human-centered perspective that gets at how policies, stay-at-home orders, political rhetoric, and community-based perceptions about COVID impact community health disparities. In addition to collecting general demographic indicators we are asking interview questions concerning access to healthcare, what people consider to be trustworthy sources of information related to health and safety, impacts to employment, as well as mental and emotional well-being.
Our interviews are intended to be a guided conversation to allow participants free rein in telling their stories and so far, the gathered information has been illuminating. Given current limitations for conducting in-person qualitative research, we decided to lean-in and adapt to the conditions presented by the pandemic. Initially, the scope of the project was based on research team members interviewing participants living in their own homes or interviewing people with whom they knew and were able to contact via phone or Zoom. As we move into the Fall, we are expanding our reach with social media advertising and the inclusion of student researchers to further diversify our sample. We will be giving special attention to participant outreach within the Deaf community, people impacted by addiction and substance use, queer and trans communities, as well as other traditionally underserved and underrepresented groups further marginalized due to existing health disparities. Our community engaged approach allows us to network with community partners to reach these groups and tell their stories.
This project will complete data collection at the end of October followed by data analysis and the dissemination of our findings. We initially intend to share our research with the communities who participated in this study and plan to make our data publicly accessible. Eventually, we plan to publish our findings as well visually present narratives in regional context through plotting participants’ stories in a Story Map. As continual statistical data emerges concerning the rates of infection, mortality, and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is our hope that this project provides a much needed human face through amplifying our community’s lived experiences during this unprecedented time.