Impacts of COVID-19 and Social Distancing on Low-Income Communities in Mich


Understand the views and experiences of low-income Michiganders during the COVID-19 pandemic so that policy makers and health care providers can diminish the health, social and financial impact on underserved communities.



Aim 1: Identify sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic for low-income households, and trust in those sources of information.

Aim 2: Describe participants’ perceptions of risk for infection with COVID-19 and potential exposures.

Aim 3: Identify protective behaviors and the obstacles to protection.

Aim 4: Describe the most significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the participants’ experiences at home, work, and in the healthcare system; understand how the pandemic has impacted existing barriers including access to care and finances.

Aim 5: Understand participant views and opinions on policies in Michigan aimed at preventing spread (social distancing, masks, e.g.).

Aim 6: Describe the experiences and views of different underserved communities.


We will sample ~25 low-income (<200% Federal Poverty Level) Michiganders age 18-65, from urban and rural communities, with approximately equal numbers of White, Black, and Hispanic backgrounds, oversampling from medically underserved counties, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural residents.


Semi-structured telephone interviews, conducted in English and Spanish, will address risk perception, views on policies aimed at preventing spread, how interviewees get information about the pandemic, protective behaviors and obstacles to protective behaviors, and barriers to access of care and finances encountered due to the ongoing pandemic.



Data collection and analysis complete.


DECIDERS role: Advisors



Michael Steinbrook

Gavisha Waidyaratne

Shalini Roy

Kate Jaffe

Annabelle Opoku

Support provided by:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, UM Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Medicine, and UM Medical School Capstone for Impact program


ACTS Translational Science Meeting, 2021

Eric Steinbrook, et al. The impact of COVID-19 policies on low-income individuals in Michigan: a qualitative study.

Society for General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting, 2022

Eric Steinbrook, et al. “We didn’t have that privilege like other people:” inequity in COVID-19 pandemic policies, a qualitative study of Michigan Medicaid enrollees.

AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting 2022

Gavisha Waidyaratne, et al. How Do We Know Who to Believe? A Qualitative Study Examining Trust and Distrust in Low Income Michigan Residents during the early COVID-19 Pandemic.


In progress