39 Voices of COVID-19

Building Trust in Government Communications

USDR recently conducted nationwide, primary, qualitative research  to explore how at-risk and vulnerable* communities receive critical COVID information. The goal of this research is to inform thinking and decision making for creators of COVID communications strategies, provide a framework to think about and prioritize key information, and share what people have to say about navigating COVID information.


Download the Research


Free access to recent, primary, qualitative research

Government teams and NGOs creating communications for their communities need more research to guide their project implementations. USDR interviewed 39 individuals from throughout the U.S. to help understand sentiments, habits, and gaps for how people may think through choices and information. The shared findings from this research can help guide your thinking as you develop and execute your communications strategy.

Action steps to build trust in government COVID communications

Public trust has eroded with governments because information is not transparent and open. This work provides a communication trust diagram to show how information flows from and to key sources. We’ve also provided tangible to-dos for trustworthy communications, including implementing best practices for design, partnership and outreach recommendations, and tips for making communications more accessible. 

Strategies to reach at-risk and vulnerable communities

Grounding communications work with the views and experiences of at-risk and vulnerable* communities helps make the work more accessible for all. We’ve provided strategies that  focus on leveraging trusted community leaders (teachers, church ministers, restaurant owners, etc.) to share information, re-examining tech and language barriers, contextualizing information, and considering the tonality of the info.

*Vulnerable populations by the World Health Organization: “People whose situations or contexts make them especially vulnerable, or who experience inequality, prejudice, marginalization and limits on their social, economic, cultural and other rights.”

At-Risk populations by US Health and Human Services: “People with access and functional needs that may interfere with their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. Irrespective of specific diagnosis, status, or label, the terms “access and functional needs” are defined as follows:

Access-based needs:  All people must have access to certain resources, such as social services, accommodations, information, transportation, medications to maintain health, and so on.

Function-based needs:  Function-based needs refer to restrictions or limitations an individual may have that requires assistance before, during, and/or after a disaster or public health emergency.

Get Started

USDR has published a 39 Voices of COVID-19 Starter Kit to help guide governments as they design or refine their communication plans. For additional context, the full research findings can be found here.

USDR is available to provide further guidance and assistance, free of charge. To date, USDR has partnered with governments in 36 states and territories. Tap the button below to connect with USDR’s team, and we will respond within hours.

By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively.