Although scientific knowledge to respond to outbreaks has increased, deficiencies remain in the ability of health authorities to communicate the need for large-scale measures such as vaccination and antiviral therapy and increase its acceptance. For effective behavioural and communication strategies, integration is needed of social, behavioural, communication and media sciences.
We bring together these disciplines to go beyond the current knowledge to develop an evidence-based behavioural and communication package for health professionals and agencies throughout Europe in case of major outbreaks. This overall aim is reached through a number of specific objectives:
1) to asses the time-dependent influences of epidemiology and risk communication including media content on human behaviour during the A/H1N1 pandemic;
2) to analyse, using Social Marketing principles, vaccination behaviour, audience segmentation, and vaccination service delivery;
3) to analyse knowledge, attitudes, risk perception, vaccination non-response and reasons for resistance during past epidemics;
4) to apply Discrete Choice Experiments to determine acceptance of preventive measures in the case of epidemic outbreaks;
5) to integrate the key findings of the studies under objectives 1-3 to determine critical factors, groups and media to be addressed in the development of effective strategies;
6) to test behavioural interventions and communication strategies tailored to different target audiences; and
7) to finalize and disseminate a package of evidence-based tools that can be tailored to individual European countries.
Our project addresses all topics in the FP7 call text. The first phase has a research emphasis, whereas in the second phase newly developed behavioural intervention and communication strategies are tested and translated into (web application) tools. The final package will be disseminated among health professionals and outbreak management agencies.
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