COVID‑19 researcher profile: Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh

- April 6, 2020

Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh. (Danny Abriel photo)
Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh. (Danny Abriel photo)

This article is part of a series on researchers who have joined the global fight against COVID-19 after receiving $1.9 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as part of the Novel Coronavirus Rapid Research Funding Opportunity (announced March 6, 2020). Learn more about how one of these researchers, Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh, is looking to identify sources of misinformation about COVID-19.

The researcher: Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh

The biography: An assistant professor in the Faculty of Health, Dr. Parsons Leigh is focused on optimizing the institutional and sociocultural aspects of health services delivery for improved patient, family, provider and system outcomes.

The project: Socio-Cultural Implications of COVID-19: Educating, Engaging and Empowering the Public.

Dr. Parsons Leigh and her team are developing a national knowledge translation (KT) campaign that is centered on understanding and describing the knowledge base, perceptions and associated implications of the COVID-19 outbreak for the Canadian public.

She and a team of researchers from several universities and organizations are examining where people are getting their information about COVID-19, the accuracy of that information and whether it is prompting people to change their behaviour. The research is also exploring whether different demographic groups respond differently.

The impact: This work will help educate, engage and empower members of the public to be informed stewards of their health knowledge in relation to the current outbreak.

“We want to really understand where people are getting their information related to COVID-19 and the factors that are influencing their perceptions and behaviours. This could look very different depending on your age, sex, gender, socio-economic status, ethnic or cultural background — and those are the pieces that we really want to investigate because it will give us invaluable information about how best to reach people.”

The update: Since the CIHR funding was announced, Dr. Parsons Leigh and her team have been able to hit the ground running, and have accomplished the following:

  • Added a stream to their funded research to explore similar questions in the healthcare workforce on both national and international scales.
  • Applied for additional supplementary funding from Research Nova Scotia to support some of the elements they have added to their research program
  • Actively planning a new sub-study that will focus on understanding primary care providers (nurse practitioners and physicians) perceptions, attitudes and reactions to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.
  • Completed a rapid review of the literature on Physician Psychological Symptoms during infectious disease outbreaks that has been submitted for publication


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