IRC Survey Directly Informs NRC-RIM Efforts

Man with beard and light brown skin talks on the phone while taking notes


The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a refugee resettlement agency based in the United States, released the results of a survey completed in fall 2020 aimed at informing the resources developed by the IRC and NRC-RIM.

They interviewed 352 respondents from 46 countries about what they knew about COVID-19, including causes, symptoms, prevention, mitigation, contact tracing and vaccines. Highlights include:

Knowledge of COVID-19

  • A majority of respondents understood that the main clinical symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, fatigue, dry cough and body aches (83%).
  • Seventy-five to ninety-nine percent of respondents reported following COVID-19 preventive behaviors such as wearing face masks, handwashing, physical distancing, etc.

Contact Tracing

  • Seventy-one percent of total respondents reported not knowing or being unsure about what contact tracing is.
  • Forty-one percent of all respondents said that they would be able to speak to a contact tracer (CT) in English while 50% of respondents answered that they would not.
  • Twenty-six percent of respondents believed that contact tracers are allowed to ask for your immigration status.

Risk of Infection

  • A strong majority (88%) of respondents stated that they would be able to stay home from work if they became sick.
  • A strong majority (92%) also reported that they would be able to self-isolate if they were to get COVID-19.

Vaccine Trust and Confidence

  • Seventy-one percent of respondents had confidence that COVID-19 will be successfully controlled, while 21% were unsure and 8% did not. 
  • Respondents who had been in the US for four or more years were less likely to think that local health officials are handling the pandemic well.
  • A higher percentage of the general US population would accept a COVID-19 vaccine if available (52%), compared to the percentage of IRC clients who stated that they would try to get the vaccine as soon as possible (28%).

This survey was crucial as IRC and NRC-RIM worked together to create educational materials related to contact tracing, vaccines and more. Additional focus groups are planned as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact on daily life.