• Interventions to promote physical distancing behaviour during infectious disease pandemics or epidemics: a systematic review

      Epton, Tracy; Ghio, Daniela; Ballard, Lisa M.; Allen, Sarah F.; Kassianos, Angelos P.; Hewitt, Rachael; Swainston, Katherine; Fynn, Wendy Irene; Rowland, Vickie; Westbrook, Juliette; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-03-26)
      Physical distancing, defined as keeping 1-2m apart when co-located, can prevent cases of droplet or aerosol transmitted infectious diseases such as SARS-CoV2. During the COVID-19 pandemic, distancing was a recommendation or a requirement in many countries. This systematic review aimed to determine which interventions and behavior change techniques (BCTs) are effective in promoting adherence to distancing and through which potential mechanisms of action (MOAs). Six databases were searched. The review included studies that were (a) conducted on humans, (b) reported physical distancing interventions, (c) included any comparator (e.g., pre-intervention versus post-intervention; randomized controlled trial), and (d) reported actual distancing or predictors of distancing behavior. Risk of bias was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. BCTs and potential MoAs were identified in each intervention. Six articles (with seven studies and 19 comparisons) indicated that distancing interventions could successfully change MoAs and behavior. Successful BCTs (MoAs) included feedback on behavior (e.g., motivation); information about health consequences, salience of health consequences (e.g., beliefs about consequences), demonstration (e.g., beliefs about capabilities), and restructuring the physical environment (e.g., environmental context and resources). The most promising interventions were proximity buzzers, directional systems, and posters with loss-framed messages that demonstrated the behaviors. The evidence indicates several BCTs and potential MoAs that should be targeted in interventions and highlights gaps that should be the focus of future research.
    • Using behavioural science in public health settings during the COVID-19 pandemic: the experience of public health practitioners and behavioural scientists

      Byrne-Davis, Lucie; Turner, R.R.; Amatya, S.; Ashton, C.; Bull, Eleanor; Chater, Angel M.; Lewis, Lesley; Shorter, Gillian; Whittaker, Ellie; Hart, Jo; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-02-07)
      Introduction The emergence of COVID-19 and the importance of behaviour change to limit its spread created an urgent need to apply behavioural science to public health. Knowledge mobilisation, the processes whereby research leads to useful findings that are implemented to affect positive outcomes, is a goal for researchers, policy makers and practitioners alike. This study aimed to explores the experience of using behavioural science in public health during COVID-19, to discover barriers and facilitators and whether the rapidly changing context of COVID-19 influenced knowledge mobilisation. Methods We conducted a semi-structured interview study, with ten behavioural scientists and seven public health professionals in England, Scotland, Wales, The Netherlands and Canada. We conducted an inductive thematic analysis. Results We report three key themes and 10 sub-themes: 1.Challenges and facilitators of translation of behavioural science into public health (Methods and frameworks supported translation, Lack of supportive infrastructure, Conviction and sourcing of evidence and Embracing behavioural science) 2. The unique context of translation (Rapid change in context, the multi-disciplinary team and the emotional toll). 3. Recommendations to support future behavioural science translation (Embedding experts into teams, Importance of a collaborative network and showcasing the role of behavioural science). Discussion Barriers and facilitators included factors related to relationships between people, such as networks and teams; the expertise of individual people; and those related to materials, such as the use of frameworks and an overwhelming amount of evidence and literature. Conclusion People and frameworks were seen as important in facilitating behavioural science in practice. Future research could explore how different frameworks are used. We recommend a stepped competency framework for behavioural science in public health and more focus on nurturing networks to facilitate knowledge mobilisation in future emergencies.