DIGICIT (DIGital CITizenship) Project: Citizen Perspectives for a socially acceptable and sustainable use of digital tracing during a pandemic

The innovative project DIGICIT (DIGItal CITizenship): Citizen perspectives for a socially acceptable and sustainable use of digital tracing in the context of a pandemic is led by Dr Marie-Pascale Pomey, full professor in the Department of Management, Evaluation and Health Policy of ESPUM, Dr. Esli Osmanlliu, pediatric emergency physician at the McGill University Health Center and Sylvain Bédard, Patient Coordinator at the Center of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public. This research project, funded by the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI and Digital Technology (OBVIA), is part of the concept of responsible innovation and clarification of the impacts of AI on society, in the context of the pandemic.

The objective of this research project is to better understand the conditions for a socially acceptable and sustainable use of exposure notification applications, such as COVID Alert, via a survey that was distributed in Quebec. More specifically, the questionnaire made it possible to study the level of use of the application, the knowledge, and the personal perceptions of citizens regarding these innovative tools in the context of the pandemic. The originality of this research was to include twelve patients and citizens in the co-construction of the survey questionnaire, in the interpretation of the results, and in the development of strategies to improve the social acceptability of these applications.


Published Articles

Scoping review Application COVID – JMIR mHealth & uHealth

  • We reviewed the literature on the design and implementation of COVID-19 exposure notification applications to propose recommendations for best practices
  • We make recommendations regarding data management, communication, stakeholder engagement, user experience, and implementation strategies for the successful and responsible development of contact tracing apps.

Méthode co-construction – Research Involvement and Engagement

  • The objective of the DIGICIT (CIToyenneté DIGITale) project was to collect, via a survey, the views of the Quebec population on the COVID Alert application.
  • This article describes our co-construction method of the questionnaire with 12 patients and citizens, evaluates their experiences with this methodology, and proposes good practices for their involvement in digital health research.
  • The inclusion of patients and citizens is the main strength of this project, having enriched the study from start to finish. Co-construction in research allows to generate ideas quickly and efficiently through collective intelligence. This methodology can be used in a variety of clinical settings and health care institutions.

Résultats de sondage – Journal of Personalized Medicine

  • Our aims were to (1) assess the use, knowledge, and concerns of the COVID Alert app, (2) identify predictors of app downloads, and (3) develop strategies to promote social acceptability.
  • This project highlights four key themes on how to promote the social acceptability of such tools: (1) improved communication and explanation of key app characteristics, (2) design features that incentivize adoption, (3) inclusive socio-technical features, and (4) upstream public partnership in development and implementation.

Expérience des participants au comité de co-création – Revue CREMIS

  • A questionnaire on the COVID Alert application was co-constructed with citizens and patients, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of co-researchers and collaborators in an advisory committee.
  • The experience of the participants is presented, highlighting the need for patient-citizen partnership in research, as well as in the development and implementation process of these technologies.
  • -This participatory research allowed us to improve the quality of the process of carrying out the questionnaire, by considering dimensions that are essential in the eyes of citizen and patient partners


This content has been updated on 2 August 2023 at 12 h 34 min.