People in face masks line up in a large park

Vaccination research

Today I look at my personal research, creating a competition to promote our training game, and using behavioural science to improve public health communications.

Vaccination research

Friday was my day off from my paid work. I worked on my own research on Friday and over the weekend. I’m trying to finish up my blog post which presents original research. I show how behavioural science can improve the customer experience at mass vaccination centres. The reason I’m doing this is because there’s a significant proportion of people who don’t go back for their second COVID-19 dose. It’s important that they do, because otherwise the vaccine is not as effective. With the Delta strain so high in Sydney, it’s very important that people have a really good experience the first time around so that they end up coming back.

The amount of work done on this would usually warrant me publishing in an academic article. However, I want to get this out as soon as possible, which is the reason I’ll be publishing it on my research website.

Training competition

Today in my paid work, I had a couple of meetings with our stakeholders on our cyber security project. We came up with some ideas for a communication strategy for how we can promote our cyber security training game. If all goes according to plan, we’re going to set it up as a fun competition across our organisation. Teams will compete against one another, and we’ll use our internal social media to promote the game. This promises to be a blast.

I’m struggling to get the resourcing that I need for this project. I’m worried about old patterns rearing their head and having a negative impact on my health.

Public health communication

In the afternoon I worked on a piece of rapid policy advice. These are coming to us thick and fast. I created public health communication tips for community leaders. I drew on our team’s various randomised control studies, as well as international research.

I’ll give you one example. Dr Katy Milkman and her team tested 22 messages across the United States. They had a sample of 650,000 people (most of them are white). The researchers looked at different messages, from saying, “Get a flu shot to protect yourself,” to using humour, and appeals to social norms (“45% of people get flu shots”), among other things. What was most effective in getting people to show up to get a flu shot was to send two reminder messages to people who already had medical appointments booked and saying: “A vaccine’s been reserved for you.” The behavioural reasons why this works is:

  1. Reciprocity. You’ve gone to the trouble of reserving me a dose, so I better show up to get it.
  2. Loss aversion. People prefer to keep something that they own. Now that you say it’s my dose, I’m going to show up.

This messaging can be used to increase COVID-19 vaccination.

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