Posted: August 4, 2020


Initiative concludes with Summary Report

With the posting of our Survey Summary Report we have concluded our voluntary COVID-19 Coping Survey behavioural research initiative.

Please read our 5-page Summary Report at right which includes:

• Key findings from COVID-19 Coping Surveys 1 through 9,

• Our perspective on what it all means,

• Our observations and recommendations for leaders who want to help their stakeholders make well-informed decisions and take appropriate actions moving forward.

Why we launched this voluntary behavioural research study 

In the initial months of the pandemic, we thought it was important to gain insight into what people were thinking and doing that might be helpful to leaders in their decision making. We also wanted to provide an opportunity for people to stay connected, support each other, have a channel to share their thoughts and experiences, and consider their own decisions and behaviour.

What the Summary Report covers

This report summarizes our key findings across all the surveys and offers some insights and considerations to leaders from all sectors – government, public health, industry and businesses – about how their constituents, employees and customers are thinking about the pandemic and how they are adapting, coping, and making decisions about protecting their own health and safety, and that of their families, friends, and neighbours.

Fostering + sustaining behaviours to defeat the COVID-19 virus

In the pandemic context, understanding what people are thinking about, how they are making decisions, and what is influencing their behaviour – in short, their mental models* – will become increasingly important. We believe that proven, science-based risk communications fundamentals (outlined in report) should be followed to improve engagement and communications, and to help people make well-informed decisions and take appropriate actions.

As leading decision scientists and risk communicators, we’d be happy to discuss how we can provide support where we can add value.  

We hope you will all make thoughtful, well-informed decisions and stay safe as, together, we continue to cope and adjust to the challenges of the pandemic in the months ahead.


Sarah Thorne, President, Decision Partners
Dan Kovacs, Senior Scientist, Decision Partners
Denise Carpenter, Senior Consultant, Decision Partners
Katherine Sousa, Research Associate, Decision Partners
Michael Dunn, President Dunn & Associates Communications and Public Affairs

Research questions: please contact Sarah Thorne or Dan Kovacs at Decision Partners, at

Media inquiries: please contact Michael Dunn, Dunn & Associates, at

*Mental models are the tacit webs of belief that guide learning, interpretation of information, and complex psychological processes of judgment, decision making and behaviour. See: Morgan, M.G., B. Fischhoff, A. Bostrom, and C.J. Atman. (2002). “Risk Communication: A Mental Models Approach”; and Wood, M. D., Thorne, S., Kovacs, D., Butte, G., & Linkov, I. (2017). “Mental Modeling Approach: Risk Management Application Case Studies.

Please view all 9 of our weekly Survey Highlight Reports and commentaries at right. 

Feel free to share report links and .pdf files with your friends, family and colleagues. 

About the COVID-19 Coping Survey 

Between March 24 and June 21, 2020 Decision Partners, along with our colleagues at Dunn & Associates, sponsored a recurring survey to better understand how people were coping in the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, we ran 9 Coping Surveys and heard from people across Canada, the US and from other countries. 

As a volunteer initiative with no sponsor, survey participants were recruited through convenience, reaching out initially to our network of colleagues and friends and encouraging them to forward the surveys to others. Respondents’ responses and thoughtful comments provide an insightful, if anecdotal, view of their perceptions over time as the pandemic evolved. Many responded to multiple surveys, which gave us and these respondents an interesting perspective on how they were adapting from week to week to the challenging pandemic conditions.

Privacy & Confidentiality: We did not ask for and will not retain, sell, or pass along any personally identifiable information that survey respondents may have provided. We follow all standards for conducting research, confidentiality and ensuring people’s privacy. You can learn more about us and our privacy policy on our website.

Survey Results

View weekly COVID-19 Coping Survey highlight reports:

Survey 9:
June 15-21

Survey 8:
May 11-18

Please click here for previous survey results.

Media Releases

May 27, 2020 (Survey 8)
May 15, 2020 (Survey 7)
May 8, 2020 (Survey 6)

Please click here for previous media releases.

Media Inquiries

Please email Michael Dunn, Dunn & Associates    

Sarah Thorne Interviews

May 19, 11, 4
April 27, 16
Subscription req'd

May 27
Economic recovery depends upon our behaviour

May 19

May 18
Starts at 9:30 mark

May 17
Starts at 14:23 mark

May 11
On player, select May 11/10:00 am, starts at 32:40 mark

April 22
Starts at 11:55 mark

April 23
Starts at 17:07 mark

April 17
Starts at 11:04 mark