In these troubling times, our research group wants to contribute to the knowledge about the virus that is causing the global COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, we contribute insights from a communication science point of view. All MIOS initiatives related to the corona crisis are listed below. For more information, please contact the corresponding researcher(s).

Communication Campaign about the COVID-19 Vaccines (VAXCOM)

Currently, members of our MIOS group are leading a project on the COVID-19 vaccines (VAXCOM), and more specifically on the beliefs, motives and hurdles with regard to the them. These insights allow to tackle the communication challenges that come along with the roll-out of the vaccination campaingn. In collaboration with the Centre of Evaluation for Vaccines, our researchers investigated the current attitudes of Flemish people toward the COVID-19 vaccines and discuss the preliminary results in a first report. You can download the report below (in Dutch).

For more information, contact prof. dr. Karolien Poels, prof. dr. Heidi Vandebosch or dr. Simone Krouwer

Coronalert: adoption and use of the COVID-19 contact tracing app

To decrease the spreading of the COVID-19 virus, applications have been developed that trace contacts with COVID-19 infected individuals and warn those who are at risk of having contracted the virus. The effectiveness of the app highly depends on its uptake and continued use by the population. In this context, members of MIOS are conducting research on the adoption and use of Coronalert, Belgium’s COVID-19 contact tracing app.

In particular, this research project focuses on determinants of app use intention, continued use and use discontinuation. The characteristics of individuals who are inclined (or not) to use the app and how this relates to their COVID-19 preventive behaviors, is investigated. 

How integrating several functionalities influences app-uptake and how the public can be informed about the app features, privacy protection measures and feedback on its (epidemiological) impact, is assessed.

This research is a collaboration of MIOS, University of Antwerp, and imec-MICT, Ghent University.

The first study was conducted in April 2020. Publications (open access) can be consulted online. You can also consult the report in Dutch or a summary report in English of the second study (conducted in November 2020) on this project website.

Currently, a new study is conducted. For more information on this research and the previous studies you can contact prof. dr. Michel Walrave, prof. dr. Koen PonnetCato Waeterloos and Eline Baert.

Selection of entertainment media during the COVID-19 pandemic

Using an online vignette study, researchers from the MIOS group gained insight into the instrumental use of entertainment media during the COVID-19 pandemic. How do we select entertainment media during a pandemic and lockdown? What are the influences of our hedonic and eudaimonic entertainment preferences and coping strategies on our selection of entertainment? What is the role of humorous and religious coping in selecting entertainment during such challenging times? That and much more is addressed in this study. This research contributes to our understanding of the role entertainment media play in managing emotions and moods, and our general well-being. 

The study will be presented at the 2021 International Communication Association (ICA) Conference. For more information regarding this conference, please consult our MIOS ICA 2021 section or visit the Research Gate page. Also, the research paper is currently under review for publication in the International Journal of Communication. Lastly, the results of the study were presented to senior high school students in an accessible and simple way. On the one hand, to introduce them to the current COVID-19 research contributions from our faculty. On the other hand, to inspire them to become one of our university students next year themselves. You can find the video on YouTube.

Please contact drs. Anouk De Ridder (for the results regarding television), drs. Rowan Daneels (for the results regarding games), prof. dr. Heidi Vandebosch or dr. Sara Pabian for more information about this study.

Physical activity during the lockdown: more or less exercise?

When our country went into national lockdown in March 2020, our daily life changed drastically. We had to stay indoors as much as possible, limit our social contacts, and even work from home. Our physical activity was also subject to this measure. Therefore, together with some colleagues from the Marketing department, some of our MIOS researcher sought an answer to the particular question of whether people adjust their exercise behavior during a lockdown.

Do people walk more, engage in start-to-run, do yoga, etc. during the lockdown? Or does a lockdown actually complicate this process? Does the Flemish population know how to maintain their activity level when their favorite sports center had to close its doors? Is a lockdown the ideal time to encourage people to reflect on their health or even to exercise more? These are all questions that this study addresses. From a communication science perspective, it is also examined whether people use communication resources such as smartwatches, trackers, fitness apps, or even video chat services (e.g. zoom sessions) during the lockdown to be, remain or become active in their own living room during the lockdown. Based on all this collected information, we gained insights into factors that cause people to belong to a more or less active group during the lockdown. These insights allowed us to discover how physical activity could be encouraged in the future, in a world without lockdowns. 

The paper is currently under review for publication in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The results of the study were also presented to senior high school students in an accessible and simple way. On the one hand, to introduce them to the current COVID-19 research contributions from our faculty. On the other hand, to inspire them to become one of our university students next year themselves. You can find the video on YouTube

Please contact drs. Michelle Symons, prof. dr. Heidi Vandebosch or prof. dr. Karolien Poels for more information about this study.

How do young people experience the corona crisis and does it help to write about it?

The corona crisis is challenging in terms of patience, which is currently taking its toll on the mental well-being of young individuals. Talking about it with others in an offline or online context can be a great relief. Our MIOS researchers conducted a study in which youth and young adults were asked to write a personal story about their experience with the corona crisis: what do they think and feel about it and how do they deal with it? Then, it was investigated how writing such a story affects their emotions and self-confidence in dealing with the situation. 

With this research we gain more insight into the effects of (online) communication on our mental health. These insights are interesting for improving online support media and other e-health applications. The results of the study were presented to senior high school students in an accessible and simple way. On the one hand, to introduce them to the current COVID-19 research contributions from our faculty. On the other hand, to inspire them to become one of our university students next year themselves. You can find the video on YouTube. The paper will also be presented at the 2021 International Communication Association (ICA) conference, and is currently under review for publication in the International Journal of Communication.

Please contact drs. Sofie Mariën, prof. dr. Heidi Vandebosch or prof. Dr. Karolien Poels for more information about this study.

Do we shop, cook or eat differently during the pandemic? - #CoronaCookingSurvey

During the first wave of the corona crisis, it was suddenly more difficult to find flour, pasta or yeast. Also, on social media, you could not ignore the photos of homemade breads or cookies. It seemed as if we approached our meals in a completely different way than we did before the rise of the corona virus. To investigate our cooking and eating behavior during the pandemic, the #CoronaCookingSurvey was launched by the team of MIOS researchers that focusses on media & nutrition (i.e., FOOMS - Food, Media & Society), in collaboration with UGent and KU Leuven.

The #CoronaCookingSurvey is a large-scale survey about the impact of COVID-19 on how people interact with food and food-related media. This way, shifts can be mapped in terms of purchasing, cooking and eating habits since the corona measures. The first part of the study consisted of an online survey from April 17 to June 15 with more than 37,000 participants from 38 other countries, of which more than 6,000 were from Belgium. Specifically for Belgium, 3 more mini-surveys followed that went deeper into specific themes such as grocery shopping, cooking and baking, and looking up nutritional information during the corona pandemic. A second part consisted of a new online survey from November 11 to January 8, in which 3,800 participants from 15 countries took part. An overview of some Belgian results can be found at www.coronacookingsurvey.be. For information about the international part, please visit www.coronacookingsurvey.com.

Currently, the research team is still working hard to develop further studies based on the data. The various surveys are part of ongoing research projects funded by VLAIO & Flanders' Food (InFlOOD)* and FWO (From Food Media to Food Literacy)**.

Please contact prof. dr. Charlotte De Backer, drs. Paulien Decorte, drs. Isabelle Cuykx, drs. Lauranna Teunissen, or the entire team via info@coronacookingsurvey.com for more information about this study.

* Flanders' FOOD is the spearhead cluster for the agri-food industry and is supported by the Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO). Through this cluster operation we want to facilitate collaboration between companies, knowledge institutions and governments. Discover the other clusters at www.vlaio.be/clusters. #Stronggrowing together through innovation and internationalization.

** The Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) stimulates and financially supports fundamental scientific research, strategic basic research, clinical scientific research, the purchase of heavy and medium research infrastructure and the management of large computing capacity in Flanders.

Corona blog UAntwerp

Throughout the entire course of the pandemic, MIOS researchers have been contributing to the coronablog of UAntwerp and UZA (University Hospital of Antwerp). As this is a university-wide initiative, researchers from various research domains attempt to shed light on the corona crisis from their field of expertise in scientifically based, yet accessible blogposts. From our communication studies perspective, various MIOS members have contributed to this blog about the following topics (in Dutch):