Saturday, April 20, 2024

Update on Effective Communication Approaches for COVID-19 Physical Distancing Measures

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An update of a rapid review undertaken in 2020 reveals new insights into effective communication approaches promoting acceptance, adherence, and uptake of physical distancing measures for COVID-19 prevention and control. The updated review encompasses recent evidence, extending our understanding of effective pandemic public health communication. The review emphasizes changes needed over time to maintain responsiveness to pandemic transmission waves and underscores the crucial role of effective communication in the public health response.

The primary focus of the review was on communication approaches that promote and support acceptance, uptake, and adherence to physical distancing. The research also aimed to explore and identify key elements of effective communication for physical distancing measures for diverse populations and groups.

The review included guidelines or reviews focusing on communication related to physical distancing measures for the prevention and control of COVID-19 or selected other diseases. The search spanned various databases, including MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Library, from inception to August 2021. Systematic review and study repositories and grey literature sources were also part of the search.

The updated review concluded with six major themes to inform policy and decision-making related to planning and implementing communication about a public health emergency. These themes highlight the need for public trust, two-way communication, clear and consistent information, support for behavior change, and continuous engagement with the community. The review also emphasizes the need to tailor communication to reach all groups within populations, considering existing inequities and the needs of disadvantaged groups.

The review underscores that the consequences of poor communication during a pandemic may mean the difference between life and death. Despite the growth in research during the COVID-19 period, gaps in the evidence persist, which necessitates high-quality, meaningful research. This includes investigating the experiences of people at heightened COVID-19 risk, identifying barriers to implementing public communication and protective health measures in lower- and middle-income countries, and finding ways to overcome these.

Original Article DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD015144


Original title: Communication to promote and support physical distancing for COVID-19 prevention and control

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