Lisa Paulin Tackles COVID-19 Messaging and Misinformation in the Hispanic Community

Posted November 07, 2023, 1:38PM

After spending over a decade in Mexico, Lisa Paulin, Ph.D., transitioned back to North Carolina for graduate school. Once back in the United States, she was intrigued by how Spanish and English-speaking newspapers communicated issues concerning Latino immigrants.

In 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paulin and fellow investigator, Tianduo Zhang, partnered with the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical and Biotechnology Research Institute (JLC-BBRI) at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) to work at COVID-19 testing sites in North Carolina’s Hispanic communities. Paulin acted as an on-site translator and handed out surveys to gather feedback on the experience and allow investigators to get a clear understanding of what was understood about the virus.

“There’s a lot of misinformation, making minority communities more vulnerable,” Paulin said. “It's important that they receive information they can trust so they can stay healthy.”

In January 2022, the National Institutes of Health Community Engagement Alliance(CEAL) team created a coloring book in both English and Spanish titled "¿Qué está pasando con COVID?" or "What's up with COVID?” that addressed ongoing COVID-19-related issues. This coloring book taught children and families about COVID-19, as well as debunked COVID-19 misconceptions. For example, while children are playing, one boy said he couldn't play with the others because he hadn't taken the vaccine and he was afraid he might get COVID from them. Later in the book, the children are educated on all things COVID-19 by a trusted healthcare professional.

After What’s up with COVID? was published, focus groups with Latino and African-American families were held. The feedback was positive and proved that the format of the information and the explanations were helpful to these communities.

“We were able to provide reliable information that people of all ages and education levels could understand,” Paulin said.

To learn more about What’s up with COVID? visit

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