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Behaviour change strategies in UK's COVID-19 public health communications

Content analysis of behaviour change strategies used in the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 public health communications

Human behaviour is central to limiting the spread of COVID-19: including behaviours such as face mask wearing, vaccination uptake, social distancing and handwashing.

In the UK, national public health communications have been delivered throughout the pandemic in various ways, such as via regular national televised briefings led by leading scientific experts and government representatives and health promotion materials by organisations such as Public Health England (now UK Health Security Agency as of 1st October 2021).

However, we currently lack a systematic analysis of the content and effectiveness of the UK’s public health communications used to address COVID-19. 

This project aims to:

  • identify behaviour change strategies used within the United Kingdom (UK)’s COVID-19 national televised briefings
  • identify behaviour change strategies used within Public Health England COVID-19 resources
  • assess the appropriateness and adequacy of these identified behaviour change strategies in the public, public health and behaviour change researchers and practitioners

This research will use content analysis and expert consensus methods to assess the appropriateness and adequacy of behaviour change strategies used in the UK’s public health communications.

Phases 1 & 2 will perform content analysis of COVID-19 public health communications. Phase 1 will analyse national televised briefings from March 2020-September 2021. Phase 2 will analyse Public Health England COVID-19 resources extracted from their COVID-19 Resource Centre. Phase 3 will perform a Delphi exercise of UK public, public health and behaviour change researchers and practitioners.

Pre-registration for this project will be published shortly.

Insights from this research can be used to provide recommendations on future COVID-19 communication strategies and interventions.

Project findings will contribute to national and international understanding of the content and adequacy of public health communications during COVID-19.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Emma Norris
Dr Emma Norris - Dr Emma Norris is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health, within the Department of Health Sciences and Co-Chair of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. She is Deputy Lead of the Division of Global Public Health and Lead of MSc Public Health and Behaviour Change (online). Dr Norris is a researcher in behaviour change and health psychology, exploring evidence synthesis of behaviour change interventions, as well as development and assessment of physical activity, smoking cessation and digital interventions. Before joining Brunel, Dr Norris was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London working on the Human Behaviour-Change Project: synthesising published literature on behaviour change using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Dr Norris' PhD tested Virtual Field Trips as physically active lesson interventions for primary-school children. Dr Norris is also an advocate for Open Science. She established and Chairs Brunel's Open Research Working Group and is Brunel's UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) Local Network Lead. She is also interested in designing behaviour change interventions to facilitate Open Science behaviours in researchers. Dr Norris is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She is Co-Chair of the European Health Psychology Society’s Open Science Special Interest Group. Emma is an Associate Editor for Health Psychology & Behavioral Medicine and Cogent Psychology. Follow Dr Norris' research and updates on Twitter: @EJ_Norris

Related Research Group(s)

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Health Behaviour Change - Development and evaluation of theory- and evidence-based health behaviour change interventions, across communicable and non-communicable diseases; evidence synthesis of behaviour change interventions.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 21/11/2023