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Theme 2: Improving the behavioural impact of communications

This theme focuses on two priorities.

First, understanding the likely reactions, needs and appropriate communication strategies for groups who may be particularly vulnerable during an emergency.

Much work, by us and others, has looked at emergency communication and needs in relation to the general public. Relatively little has looked at groups who might traditionally be seen as vulnerable. Our current work examines the needs of one such group, older adults, in detail. Within this, we are using focus groups and interviews with older adults, carers and charities to explore the impact of issues including social isolation, mobility problems and dementia on their needs and ability to engage with public health advice during a crisis. We are not viewing this simply as an issue of vulnerability. Instead we are using an approach which identifies the specific resources and networks that older adults could use to help them cope with emergencies. This work will allow us to tailor advice to this group during a crisis, reducing health inequalities during an emergency. For more information, please contact Julia Pearce.

A second strand of work is considering how best to reduce the problem of widespread non-adherence to prophylactic medication during a crisis.

Following a systematic review of factors influencing adherence to prophylactic medication and in-depth interviews with members of the public, we will use a series of scenario-based experimental studies to assess whether particular messages might improve adherence. Messages will be informed by psychological models of adherence and be capable of dissemination via electronic or SMS systems.

Lead researchers

Dr Brooke Rogers

Reader in Risk and Terror

King's College London