Impacts of Public Communications and Recommendations for Improving Health Messages: A Dual Longitudinal Qualitative and Experimental Study – Com Covid-19
This interdisciplinary project aims to continue the action-research initiated, without funding, from the first day of containment. In this period of major health crisis, if public communication (State, public health organization...) is extremely important for the populations and the management of the country, it is very difficult to conceive (problems of comprehension, contradiction in the messages...) and can lead to produce opposite effects to those expected, which can be deleterious in a situation of confinement then deconfinement. However, by basing communication actions and citizen information policy on scientific research, their effectiveness can be significantly improved. The objective of our project, which is based on an "evidence-based" logic combining experimental methodology and longitudinal qualitative methodology (in-depth interviews), is as follows:
- to better understand, on the one hand, the perception of public policies and crisis communication implemented by public authorities with analyses of the reception, acceptance and reactions to public policies to fight the epidemic and, on the other hand, the information needs of citizens in order to help provide "feedback" to the public authorities who request it (explicit request from Santé Publique France, which is participating in this project without funding it).
- to draw up recommendations that are directly and immediately operational, intended for public authorities (especially public health authorities) to help improve communication policy and propose effective prevention messages related to the Covid-19 epidemic. These recommendations will be based on two complementary field research projects already underway.
Firstly, two randomized controlled trials to increase the efficiency of communication operations by public authorities aimed at the French a) in confinement then b) deconfinement: a) which messages are the most effective in motivating people to remain confined (the French are not immune to reconfinement), to practice barrier gestures, to take care of their psychological health (stress. b) In deconfinement: so that they can continue to use barrier gestures and wear masks, consult and get tested as soon as the slightest symptoms appear. The initial results of the first experiment have made it possible to establish a classification of the most effective messages in confinement and have shown that women and men react differently to them. We need to continue analysing the results and publish them, and we need to envisage an identical experiment but in a context of deconfinement.
Secondly, from the very first days of the confinement, we implemented waves of regular qualitative surveys (in-depth interviews by videoconference every 10 days) so as to have a longitudinal and in-depth follow-up of the same diversified population of French people.Indeed, to design good messages and inform the French people well, it is necessary to know their "experience", their need for information and to adapt the messages to what the people are experiencing (as of 10 May: 189 hours of interviews were conducted). We would like to continue the interviews in a context of deconfinement, to continue the analysis that has partly begun and to construct a series of recommendations according to the phases, some of which have already been identified, through which the panel of subjects passes. Since the beginning of April, at their request, we have been reporting our results in real time to the Covid-19 Scientific Committee, the Government Information Service (Prime Minister) and Public Health France in order to help public decision-makers make the best decisions in terms of public communication.
Monsieur Didier COURBET (Institut Méditerranéen des Sciences de l'Information et de la Communication)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
LPS Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale
IMSIC Institut Méditerranéen des Sciences de l'Information et de la Communication
Help of the ANR 27,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: June 2020 - 9 Months