IBTN 2020 Session 2D: Discussion

Duration: 48 minutes

Chair: Nicola McCleary, PhD

Participants: Susan Michie, PhD, Kim Lavoie, PhD, and Sherry Stewart, PhD

Moderated by Michael Vallis, PhD and Robert West, PhD

View Q&A Session

Speakers have kindly provided responses to questions submitted by conference participants during the Discussion session that did not get an opportunity to be discussed.

  1. Question from Eric Hekler – Can we translate these insights into brief one-pagers, policy-briefs, and the likes that we can use to spread appropriate recommendations on how, behaviorally, to handle covid? Could this be something that could be quickly approved and, perhaps, co-branded with the various orgs involved (e.g., coordinated via IBTN and BMRC)? I, for one, in San Diego, could really use translation of the first two talks into simple one-pager style recommendations that I could offer to my public health colleagues and community partners and beyond. I think coming out quickly with strong messaging that we can share across the world would be very valuable and important where we work to amplify this good work together.

That would be a good idea. I wonder if SBM could be asked to be involved as well.

Robert West (moderator)

  1. Question from Justin Presseau – The pandemic has highlighted the wide reach and well established channels of communication and intervention provided by local public health infrastructure in many jurisdictions. While I agree national policy sets a critical tone and delighted to see attempts made to bring behavioural science at that level, often the enactment of interventions at scale seems to also benefit from the reach of local (city level) public health units. However, it’s also unclear whether and how local public health units involve behavioural medicine. Any thoughts or suggestions on how we as behavioural scientists can have these local impacts too by contributing by unique expertise and leverage the reach and infrastructure that we might not otherwise have ourselves?

This is a really good point. In the UK we are seeing behavioural scientists employed in Local Authorities and it seems to be working out well, with huge demand on their expertise. In some cases they link up with local universities as well.

Robert West (moderator)

  1. Question from Justin Presseau – Epidemiology has clearly been cast into the spotlight during the pandemic – behavioural medicine should too but hasn’t to the same extent. What can we learn from that to increase our role and impact in future waves/pandemics?

Good question. In the UK the behavioural science is quite salient and the media has shown a strong interest in it. I think this is because it is providing answers to the kinds of question people are interested in.

Robert West (moderator)

  1. In the U.S., there have been some instances (fortunately not very many, at least not yet) of violent or threatening reactions to public health measures, e.g., assaults or threats against store workers who ask customers to adhere to store policies on masks or social distancing. Do the panelists have ideas about how behavioural science could help with this problem?

Too big a question for this forum but in general a multifaceted approach is best 1) norms around collective solidarity, 2) community engagement, 3) training in de-escalation

Robert West (moderator)

  1. Question from Eric Hekler – How do we make sure ALL of social and behavioral science work is included and in the discourse and not just “behavioral economics” and “nudge units”? A small portion of our community that has achieved oversized influence on policy decision-making.

Always take the opportunity to explain that behavioural science is more than nudge and give examples.

Robert West (moderator)

  1. Question from Brigitte Voisard – Speaking of social norms, I was wondering if the panel could comment on the role of norms in relation to adherence to COVID-19 recommendations. I am for example thinking of masks, which are deemed much more tolerable in some societies rather than others.

Norms are clearly very important and can be rapidly changed.

Robert West (moderator)

PLEASE NOTE: Though numerous questions were submitted by conference participants, only the questions for which we obtained responses are shared here.