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A number of lifestyle behaviours have been identified as potential risk factors for COVID-19 in public health messaging and the media; however, in some cases the evidence for this is sparse and inconclusive.

This DPhil aims to investigate how public health messaging, in its various forms, has impacted key lifestyle behaviours (diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use) during the coronavirus pandemic. The student will explore how risk of COVID-19 in relation to these health behaviours was portrayed in the media, how people felt about these communications and how it influenced their wellbeing and behaviours.

The first project will involve a systematic review of lifestyle behaviours and how these changed over the course of the pandemic.

The second project will be a content analysis of social media and press reports on how risk was communicated and how people responded to public health messaging on the relationship between lifestyle behaviours and COVID-19.

The third project will include a suite of qualitative studies exploring and contrasting the views and experiences of people who smoke tobacco and people living with obesity on themes such as risk management, stigmatisation and bias related to COVID-19.

Findings will be used to inform the development of strategies for future risk communication, which could be applied to situations outside of the current coronavirus pandemic.

Supervisory team