Experiences and implications of the first wave of the COVID-19 emergency in Italy: a social science perspective

Masino, S. and Enria, L. 2023. Experiences and implications of the first wave of the COVID-19 emergency in Italy: a social science perspective. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 12 6871. https://doi.org/10.34172/ijhpm.2023.6871

TitleExperiences and implications of the first wave of the COVID-19 emergency in Italy: a social science perspective
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMasino, S. and Enria, L.
Abstract

Background
Italy was among the first countries in the world to experience the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 emergency and suffered its consequences to a devastating scale. Understanding how the country got there in spite of a relatively well-resourced public and private health system in at least part of the country, is imperative to be able to operationalise any lessons learnt for future epidemics in Italy and beyond.

Methods
The paper reports the findings from a research scoping exercise conducted in Italy in 2020. We conducted extensive archival research and collected 29 testimonies either in writing or as semi-structured interviews. We sampled purposively with a stratification strategy in mind, specifically aiming to gain testimonies from different social groups, classes, ages, and nature of employment. Our sample also reflects the different experiences between the Northern and Southern regions, a divide that has long been economically and politically salient in the country.

Results
Evidence and considerations of epidemiological nature normally guide public health responses to crises. This study supports the idea that socio-economic, cultural and political factors also affect transmission outcomes. We highlight specifically the role that socioeconomic and health inequalities play in this respect, through factors such as overcrowded dwellings, lack of alternatives to in-person work, informal work set-ups, pervasive organised crime presence, poorly planned social support and communication strategies.

Conclusions
A socio-economic and political lens is needed in addition to an epidemiological one to fully understand the social experiences and implications of public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and to devise effective response measures that are locally relevant and acceptable. Thus insights provided by multi-disciplinary task forces can render policymaking and social support interventions as well as communication strategies more effective.

KeywordsCOVID-19
Inequality
Public Health
Italy
Socio-Economic Impact
Social Sciences
Article number6871
JournalInternational Journal of Health Policy and Management
Journal citation12
ISSN2322-5939
Year2023
PublisherKerman University of Medical Sciences, Iran, Islamic Republic of
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34172/ijhpm.2023.6871
Publication dates
Published online28 Feb 2023

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