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Compliance with infection control advice
At least until effective vaccines are available to combat coronavirus and a significant proportion of the population has been vaccinated, an important aspect of the management of the virus outbreak will be to continue efforts to strengthen compliance with the general infection control advice and put in place measures to reduce the spread of infection.
The Government's strategy for handling the COVID-19 pandemic recognises the importance of the population understanding and motivation to comply with infection control advice. Transmission-reducing behaviour is vital in our efforts to combat the pandemic, and the extent to which the population follows the advice and respects the measures can have a major impact on the frequency of infection and overall mortality.
Adherence to advice varies geographically, over time, and between different groups within the population. Knowledge in this area will therefore often be highly contextual, and knowledge from other countries will to a varying degree be relevant for Norway. We need our own Norwegian surveys and data, and there is also a strong need for better national overview, coordination and cooperation in order to get the knowledge we need.
About the priority project
The aim of this project is to obtain knowledge concerning the population's compliance with advice and the factors that influence behaviour and compliance.
Examples of factors which influence behaviour include:
- Perceived risk of infection or disease.
- Concern about becoming infected or infecting others.
- Shame linked to being infected.
- The extent to which people believe that their own behaviour actually affects their own risk and health and that of other people.
- Norms and social influence on behaviour.
- Knowledge and proximity to others who are at greater risk of developing severe symptoms or who have had severe symptoms.
- Pandemic fatigue amongst the population.
- Trust in the public authorities.
- Formulation of health communication relating to the pandemic.
Examples of advice where compliance will be studied are:
- Wearing of face masks.
- Social distancing and contact-reducing measures.
- Quarantine and isolation provisions.
- Behaviour in the event of symptoms.
- Infection control at pubs, clubs and restaurants.
In the work related to the project, we will use various methods to gain a better understanding of compliance to infection control advice. An example of a data collection is the County Public Health Survey (CPHS) concerning the coronavirus. This survey was carried out in Agder and in Nordland in June 2020, and again in Oslo, Vestland, Agder and Nordland at the end of November/December. We will use the data to study general patterns in how the population has received infection control advice and their compliance. We will identify broad groups that are struggling more with compliance than others and the barriers to compliance that exist.
A report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health shows that the pandemic has affected foreign-born people living in Norway harder than the rest of the population. These are groups which can be difficult to reach with surveys. We will conduct qualitative surveys amongst different minority groups in order to learn more about how these groups follow the advice and why the advice is sometimes not followed.
The spread of infection has also been high among adolescents, and figures from the County Public Health Surveys concerning coronavirus show that the youngest age groups have greater difficulty maintaining sufficient physical distance from other people, compared to the oldest age groups. We will also conduct qualitative surveys in order to study compliance with infection control advice amongst adolescents and what can be done to increase compliance within this group.
In the work on the project, we will explore the use of big data in order to learn more about compliance amongst the population. This could for example involve looking at card transaction data leading up to the introduction of measures across different geographical areas, time and sectors.
The project is being led by Øystein Vedaa and Tone Bruun.
Coordination and collaboration between many academic communities in Norway are important in order to learn as much as possible about the subject areas covered by the project. Knowledge production in the field is methodically challenging, and it is important that the population is not unnecessarily burdened with duplicate data collections. We will therefore emphasise the promotion of effective cooperation nationally concerning priority subject areas. In addition, we will develop an overview of ongoing projects and initiatives nationally, and identify new opportunities for data collection.
Projects, tasks, and data sources
- County health surveys concerning coronavirus
- PANDRISK (uib.no) Led by the University of Bergen
- The Co-Mix Behaviour study
- Qualitative analyses
- The Norwegian Mother, Father & Child Cohort Study (MoBa)
Do you have any questions?
Contact Øystein Vedaa