Factors Influencing Americans’ Preventive Behaviours during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons for Strategic Health and Risk Communicators

Sung In Choi (PhD student), Yan Jin, and Mark Badham. (forthcoming). “Factors Influencing Americans’ Preventive Behaviours during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons for Strategic Health and Risk Communicators.” Strategic Communication in a Global Crisis: National and International Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Eds. R. Tench, J. Meng, and A. Moreno-Fernández), Routledge.

Abstract: This chapter examines factors influencing Americans’ preventive behaviours, including their COVID-19 vaccination intentions, in response to the U.S. Government’s strategic communication about COVID-19 guidelines. This chapter draws on the theory of planned behaviour to shed light on three factors that can help strategic health and risk communicators predict future behaviours during a pandemic: attitude toward a recommended vaccine, social norms (i.e., the likelihood that individuals will follow others’ opinions about recommended behaviour), and self-efficacy (i.e., individuals’ confidence in their own ability to follow recommended behaviour). Based on an online survey of American adults in October-November 2020, the study found, first, that a relatively high proportion of Americans were adopting government-recommended behaviours to prevent infection and spread of the virus. Second, Americans who follow the government’s recommended behaviours tend to have higher vaccination intentions. Third, younger Americans are more likely to be influenced by social norms to adopt recommended behaviours. Fourth, younger Americans have higher levels of self-efficacy than older Americans. Finally, Americans with higher education levels tend to have higher self-efficacy to follow recommended actions, thus leading to higher levels of preventive behaviours. These findings have important implications for strategic health and risk communicators, particularly when attempting to persuade the public to follow government health recommendations during a public health crisis.

The Global Vaccine Action Plan – insights into its utility, application, and ways to strengthen future plans.

Abstract: The pace of global progress must increase if the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) goals are to be achieved by 2020. We administered a two-phase survey to key immunization stakeholders to assess the utility and application of GVAP, including how it has impacted country immunization programs, and to find ways to strengthen the next 10-year plan.

Results: Global immunization stakeholders (n = 38) cite global progress in improving vaccine delivery (88%) and engaging civil society organizations as advocates for vaccines (83%). Among regional and national immunization stakeholders (n = 58), 70% indicated reaching mobile and underserved populations with vaccination activities as a major challenge. The top ranked activities for helping country programs achieve progress toward GVAP goals include improved monitoring of vaccination coverage and upgrading disease surveillance systems. Most respondents (96%) indicated GVAP as useful for determining immunization priorities and 95% were supportive of a post-2020 GVAP strategy. Conclusions: Immunization stakeholders see GVAP as a useful tool, and there is cause for excitement as the global immunization community looks toward the next decade of vaccines. The next 10-year plan should attempt to increase political will, align immunization activities with other health system agendas, and address important issues like reaching mobile/migrant populations and improving data reporting systems.

 

“Effectively addressing opioid drug use and misuse: Identifying the crisis and risk communications challenges and opportunities.”

Abstract: The epidemic of opioid drug use and misuse in the United States and in many other continues unabated.  Communicating to healthcare practitioners, the public, news media, and those legally and illegally using opioids is unusually complex due to the multiple factors and varying use situations that have contributed to the current epidemic. To date, however, it does not appear a concerted effort has identified the crisis or risk communication challenges and opportunities that exist when it comes to opioids. As such, this project will use a literature search (including grey literature involving communication research) and expert interviews to identify the major crisis and risk communication challenges and opportunities involving opioid misuse. It will develop a framework that systematically organizes them and helps identify potentially effective communication practices and needed next steps based on what is known from communication research and efforts to date.