Drawings of houses with letter blocks that spell out: Stay home

Public Health Planning

Back to back meetings from 9:00am through to the afternoon. Most were for planning our randomised control trial in public health.

Public health trial

We started with our stakeholder who’s new to our public health project. We briefed them about our aims and the fieldwork that’s coming up. We’re doing interviews and surveys with health professionals

We followed with a meeting with our director to brief him on our ethics application so that we can carry out our fieldwork. Thankfully, he approved it, so we were able to prepare the ethics papers, which I sent off to the Ethics Committee.

It turns out one of the committee members was on leave, so we scrambled to find a replacement. Luckily one of previous directors was available to step in. That was a really good outcome for us because she’s familiar with the ethics process and our work.


Another meeting was with stakeholders for another project which is in scale-up. Scale-up means that we’ve previously done a randomised control trial, and now we are embedding the lessons as business as usual.

In this particular case, we had used behavioural messages to encourage students who are struggling to complete their qualifications to reach out for help when they come up with problems rather than quitting. As I’ve previously reported, around 40% of this cohort currently quit. We tested a behavioural intervention that was effective. We’re working through the 12 month results of our scale-up.

There are some challenges with our additional exploratory analysis, so we discussed some options because those results will be delayed.


The following meeting was on scoping a possible randomised controlled trial on cyber security. I previously mentioned that I’ve put together a research proposal on potential projects that we could test. Today we focused on behaviours we can measure.

Currently, our partners use self-reported surveys to check comprehension of cyber awareness. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that people know what to do when they face a cyber security threat.

I can say I understood your training, but it doesn’t mean that I will be able to effectively use that training in my day-to-day work.

People forget training really quickly, and cyber criminals are very clever. They send what looks like an ordinary email, and easily fool people into clicking on suspicious links. Or they pressure people into revealing sensetive information.

Our meeting covered specific behaviour interventions that we can test.


Then I had two separate managerial meetings: one with my director, and then one with my manager on other project issues.

I also had some ad hoc meetings with another colleague. We’re trying to improve accessibility of our online public events.

COVID-19 research

In between all this, I reviewed some of the COVID-19 literature. Research shows that about 90% of people are not self-isolating correctly (we’re supposed to stay home as we feel symptoms and not leave while we’re waiting for our test results). That’s also been the case that the height of infection in Melbourne.

There are a range of reasons why people don’t follow self-isolation rules. Some people are continuing to follow their ordinary routine. So for example, they continue to go grocery shopping, because they don’t feel sick. Other people leave self-isolation because they feel their symptoms alleviate, and they think it’s safe to go outdoors.

One UK study also finds that only 10% of people are following quarantine rules, even after they are called by contact tracers and told that they are a close contact of someone who is COVID-19 positive. People who have kids are more likely to break quarantine. The study doesn’t go into the reasons why, but it could potentially be structural barriers, such as parents not having the right support in place to help them look after their kids.

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