Review: Experience with social distancing early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: Implications for public health messaging

Home/Review: Experience with social distancing early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: Implications for public health messaging

Review: Experience with social distancing early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: Implications for public health messaging

Review: Experience with social distancing early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: Implications for public health messaging

This research study suggests that to increase compliance with social distancing guidelines, messages should focus on young people and address their negative affect, refocus their self-orientation, and target specific rationales.

After analyzing thousands of responses as to why people are non-compliant with social distancing recommendations, researchers found seven common themes: non-essential work, mental and physical health, taking sufficient precautions, non-essential activities, society over-reacting, childcare-related, and government-related. To address these common themes, the following messaging strategies are offered to increase compliance:

  • Non-essential work: convey support and communicate necessity of remote work solutions to employers
  • Mental and physical health: recognize hardships and identify safe well-being activities
  • Taking sufficient precautions: explain why stronger measures are required and communicate the norms of compliance
  • Non-essential activities: provide clarity on what activities are essential
  • Society over-reacting: emphasize the danger to all if society is compromised
  • Childcare-related: construct parent-specific recommendations
  • Government-related: develop consistent messaging from federal, state, and local levels of government

By implementing these suggestions, public health policy and communication of COVID-19 social distancing measures may be better tailored to maximize compliance.

|2020-06-19T11:10:17-04:00June 19th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|0 Comments

About the Author: Maria Brann

Maria Brann
Dr. Maria Brann, PhD, MPH, is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and affiliate faculty with the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University. She explores the integration of health, interpersonal, and gender communication. Her translational focus and mixed methods approach are woven throughout her health vulnerabilities research, which advocates for more effective communication to improve people’s health and safety. Her primary research interests focus on the study of women’s and ethical issues in health communication contexts and promotion of healthy lifestyle behaviors to improve personal and public health and safety. She researches communication at both the micro and macro levels and studies how communication influences relationships among individuals and with the social world.

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