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BAME bespoke COVID advice grabs government backing

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COVID-19 health messaging that really resonates with black, Asian and ethnic minority people is the goal for research at Brunel Business School just given £371,000 funding.

People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are twice as likely as white people to end up in intensive care and die from COVID.

Today spelling out ‘an urgent need’ to find out why the virus hits BAME people harder, the government announced it is pouring £4.3 million into research to protect these communities.

And Brunel Business School’s work to craft targeted messages that speak strongly to BAME cultures will pocket a £371,000 slice of the cash.

“Existing public health messages on COVID-19 do not always resonate with Black and Asian communities,” said Professor Jane Hendy, Dean of the Brunel Business School.

“Many in BAME communities feel that they won’t be understood or welcome when they try to engage with health services.

“We need to change our messaging to include ethnic minorities and focus on how to protect rather than alienate people. COVID-19 may create more stigmatisation for some families and communities, already feeling voiceless, further preventing them from seeking healthcare. Unless people feel that they are equally entitled to and worthy of treatment, they may not  seek help.”

Professor Hendy’s team will join Professor Aftab Ala at the University of Surrey and BAME communities to design health messages that work better for BAME communities to encourage behaviours that reduce COVID transmission. They will speak to local, regional and national BAME communities, faith leaders and health professionals about how best to talk about risks, distancing and infection control.

Their work is one of six projects to explain and lessen the uneven COVID death rate today winning funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Others backed by the scheme will tackle risk of infection and death from COVID-19 in individual ethnicity groups and use modelling to see if different lifestyle, behaviours, environmental factors and rates of social inequality explain the disproportionate death rate.

Announcing the funding, Chief Medical Officer for England and Head of the NIHR Professor Chris Whitty said: " The diverse range of projects will help examine how new treatments and approaches to care can be developed to target the ethnicities most at risk."

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “I am deeply concerned by the disproportionate impact of this horrible virus on some minority communities. We need to find out what’s causing this, so we can stop these deaths. These research awards will give Britain’s scientists resources they need to answer the urgent questions behind these disparities so we can address the root causes and save lives.”

 Find out more about Brunel Business School here.

Reported by:

Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268176
hayley.jarvis@brunel.ac.uk