Digital technology and disease surveillance in the COVID-19 pandemic: A scoping review protocol

Lorie Donelle*, Jodi Hall, Brad Hiebert, Jacob J. Shelley, Maxwell J. Smith, Jason Gilliland, Saverio Stranges, Anita Kothari, Jacquelyn Burkell, Tommy Cooke, Jed Long, James M. Shelley, Deanna Befus, Leigha Comer, Marionette Ngole, Meagan Stanley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Infectious diseases pose a risk to public health, requiring efficient strategies for disease prevention. Digital health surveillance technologies provide new opportunities to enhance disease prevention, detection, tracking, reporting and analysis. However, in addition to concerns regarding the effectiveness of these technologies in meeting public health goals, there are also concerns regarding the ethics, legality, safety and sustainability of digital surveillance technologies. This scoping review examines the literature on digital surveillance for public health purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic to identify health-related applications of digital surveillance technologies, and to highlight discussions of the implications of these technologies. Methods and analysis The scoping review will be guided by the framework proposed by Arksey and O'Malley and the guidelines outlined by Colquhoun et al and Levac et al. We will search Medline (Ovid), PsycInfo, PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL (EBSCOhost), ACM Digital Library, Google Scholar and IEEE Explore for relevant studies published between December 2019 and December 2020. The review will also include grey literature. Data will be managed and analysed through an extraction table and thematic analysis. Ethics and dissemination Findings will be disseminated through traditional academic channels, as well as social media channels and research briefs and infographics. We will target our dissemination to provincial and federal public health organisations, as well as technology companies and community-based organisations managing the public response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere053962
Pages (from-to)e053962
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • COVID-19
  • public health
  • qualitative research


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