How can behavioural science be applied to public health communication to influence the adoption of safer practices? In collaboration with Noora Health, we addressed this question at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic through our research on barriers to adoption of preventive behaviours such as early reporting of symptoms and testing.

Based on the learnings from our research, we supported the Government of Punjab during the first wave of COVID-19 by developing a communication campaign to encourage early testing. Our campaign, conceptualised with a ‘Care and support’ angle, conveyed empathy and support from the public health system and urged people to get tested early to keep their families safe.

We tested the campaign posters on four key behavioural science parameters—understanding, recall, sentiments and behavioural indicators—to gauge comprehension levels and degree of resonance with elements like the mascot, tagline and visuals. In this report, we document the findings from our expert interviews, key informant interviews, needs assessment and rapid testing of the campaign posters. While this research was essential to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it also holds important lessons for the development of future public health communication campaigns.

This work was done by the author/s when they were a part of the IDFC Institute and is republished here with permission.