Using behavioural science could give vital boost to vaccination uptake, say psychologists

Categories: School of Health and Society
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Psychology lecturer Daniela Ghio has been involved in a large volunteering effort, the Health Psychology Exchange, alongside health researchers and health psychologists across the UK in reviewing public health messaging from past pandemics to identify what makes an effective health message.


This review informed evidence-based British Psychological Society (BPS) guidelines, written by the Behavioural Science and Disease Prevention Taskforce on optimising vaccine uptake for COVID-19.

These guidelines released today from the BPS identified six key principles driven by understanding people’s capability, opportunity, and motivation to get the Covid-19 vaccination.

  • Understanding – people will be more likely to get the vaccination if they understand the safety of the vaccine, the benefits to themselves, their communities, any potential side effects and what they need to do post-vaccination
  • Personalise – people need to receive messages which are personalised to their needs, for example in certain languages and via accessible mediums
  • Trust – dispelling misinformation is vital, messages need to state the facts and be delivered by trusted members of the community
  • Address barriers to access – practical as well as psychological barriers need to be addressed.  For instance vaccination centres should be accessible within local communities
  • Keep it brief – avoid jargon and keep messages clear
  • Evidence of effectiveness – showcase the evidence for how well the vaccination works, and the benefit of getting the vaccination for not just themselves but loved ones and society as a whole

Read the review.

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