Impact of the government's restrictions and guidance in relation to "social distancing" on the lives of ethnic minority populations: A mixed methods study

Pooja Saini* (Lead Author), Lorna Porcellato, Anna Hunt, Hannah Timpson, Rebecca Harrison, Charlotte Bigland, Conan Levy, Caroline E. Brett, Mark Forshaw, Vivian Hope, The Phoenix Team

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract / Description of output

    Background and Aims
    The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been equal, with a disproportionate impact among ethnic minority communities. Structural inequalities in social determinants of health such as housing and employment have contributed to COVID-19's impact on deprived communities, including many ethnic minority communities. To compare (1) how the UK government's “social distancing” restrictions and guidance were perceived and implemented by ethnic minority populations compared to white populations, (2) the impact of restrictions and guidance upon these groups.

    An explanatory sequential mixed methods study incorporated a quantitative survey and qualitative semi-structured interviews to explore individual perceptions and experiences of COVID-19 and the national restrictions. Survey participants (n = 1587) were recruited from North West England; 60 (4%) participants were from ethnic minority communities. Forty-nine interviews were conducted; 19 (39%) participants were from ethnic minority communities. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic approach. Data collection was between April and August 2020.

    Significant differences in demographics and household overcrowding were observed between white vs ethnic minority survey respondents, who were also significantly less confident in their knowledge of COVID-19, less likely to be high-risk drinkers, and marginally more likely to have experienced job loss and/or reduced household income. There were no group differences in wellbeing, perceptions, or nonfinancial impacts. Two inter-related themes included: (1) government guidance, incorporating people's knowledge and understanding of the guidance and their confusion/frustration over messaging; (2) the impacts of restrictions on keyworkers, home-schooling, working from home and changes in lifestyle/wellbeing.

    Further research is needed on the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on ethnic minority communities. If policy responses to COVID-19 are to benefit ethnic minority communities, there is a need for future studies to consider fundamental societal issues, such as the role of housing and economic disadvantage.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1356
    JournalHealth Science Reports
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2023

    Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

    • Covid‐19
    • social distancing
    • government restrictions
    • ethnic minority


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