Apr 20, 2022

About the data

Each week, we survey a panel of 200 local St. Louis residents asking what they have heard, seen, or read about COVID-19 or other health-related information in the last seven days. If a respondent reports having heard, seen, or read any of the specific health information assessed, additional questions are asked about where they heard, saw, or read it and whether it seemed true to them. After answering these questions – regardless of how they respond – panel members see a brief on-screen explanation of the information. This is done for ethical reasons, to assure that panel members receive accurate information. Respondents can also report other COVID-19 information they have heard, seen, or read by the open-ended response. New survey items can be added and old items removed to assure the survey is responsive to changes in the COVID-19 pandemic.

How are the data collected?

Each Sunday afternoon, panel members receive a text message containing a link to an online survey optimized for completion on a mobile phone. Panel members have 48 hours to respond before the survey closes. The first survey was administered on August 30, 2021. Weekly response rates have ranged from 90 -100%.

Who are the panel members?

Panel members include front-line workers and community members living or working in St. Louis City or St. Louis County, MO. All panel members are age 18 years or older. Front-line workers are defined as those who have direct contact with the public in their daily work and include representatives from health care, public health, social service, and other sectors. Panel members were recruited through a wide range of community-based organizations, at community events, and through community outreach efforts. Participants are diverse in race/ethnicity, age, sex, and parental status.

About the measures

The dashboard reports several types of data. Exposure rate is the percentage of respondents who report having heard, read, or seen a specific COVID-19 claim out of the total number of respondents who completed a survey that week. For example, if 200 panel members responded to the weekly survey and 100 of them reported that they had heard, read or seen that Ivermectin can stop the COVID-19 virus, exposure to that information is 50% (100/200).

Believability rate is calculated as the percentage of respondents who reported that a specific COVID-19 claim was “definitely true,” “seems like it could be true,” or “not sure if it’s true or untrue” the first time they heard it, divided by the total number of respondents who have ever responded to the believability question. We report the percent first-believed (rather than the current week’s belief) because after answering a believability question for the first time, all panel members see an explanation with accurate information, which could bias future responses to the same believability question.

Data about the source from which a respondent heard, read, or saw some information is reported as a percentage of all respondents who heard, read, or saw that information in a given week. Because it is possible that a panel member could be exposed to some specific information from multiple sources (e.g., from a friend, on the Internet, through social media), panel members can select multiple responses. Thus, the percentages across all possible sources can add to greater than 100%.

About the sponsors

This collaborative community project is a partnership among the City of St. Louis Department of Health, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, the St. Louis COVID-19 Regional Response Team, and the Health Communication Research Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis. Support for the project comes from the Community Engagement Alliance (National Institutes of Health) and the Vaccine Confidence Network (U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control).