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University of Aberdeen scientists to examine impact of lockdown on behaviour patterns

The empty streets of Edinburgh during lockdown

A team of behavioural scientists from the University of Aberdeen has been awarded £325,000 to carry out a six-month investigation which will help inform Scottish Government policy on dealing with Covid-19.

The study, which launches today (Thursday, June 4) will examine whether people are adhering to Covid-19 guidelines, the impact the rules are having on their mental and physical health, and what triggers changes in adherence and health.

Each week, the team will conduct a nationally representative telephone survey through UK market researcher Ipsos MORI, comprising questions about what people are doing, how they are feeling and why, in order to assess changes and possible explanations in a total of 8,500 people over the course of four months.

At the end of each month, the team will report changes and explanations, allowing government and health officials to act rapidly to protect the public and prevent ill-health during the pandemic.

Professor Diane Dixon of the University’s Institute of Applied Health Sciences, will lead a consortium of over 30 behavioural scientists from universities and institutions across the country.

“Transmission reducing behaviours (TRBs), such as social distancing and hand washing, are essential to quashing the pandemic, but adherence varies as they severely disrupt normal life. As lockdown restrictions are eased adhering to these behaviours remains crucial but adherence to them may become more challenging.  It is vital, therefore, that we understand how adherence changes over the next few months,” said Professor Dixon.

“This project will provide the Scottish Government with timely, reliable and actionable evidence to enable them to intervene to support adherence to TRBs and to protect mental and physical health.”

Author: Joanne Milne


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