Rapid co-design, implementation and evaluation of a digital behaviour change intervention to improve hand hygiene and limit spread of the COVID-19 outbreak

  • Funded by Department of Health and Social Care / National Institute for Health and Care Research (DHSC-NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:11 publications

Grant number: MC_PC_19068

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    Department of Health and Social Care / National Institute for Health and Care Research (DHSC-NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    University of Southampton
  • Research Category

    Infection prevention and control

  • Research Subcategory


  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group


  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



This COVID-19 Rapid Response award is jointly funded (50:50) between the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. The figure displayed is the total award amount of the two funders combined, with each partner contributing equally towards the project. This project will evaluate how an existing digital public health intervention can be very rapidly adapted and optimised for the changing needs of an infection outbreak, using novel participatory-co-design methods, and building on partnerships with PHE and leading Chinese researchers. We will translate and immediately widely disseminate in both UK and China our NICE-endorsed 'Germ-Defence' digital infection control intervention for the general public. We will then engage with stakeholder (n=15) and PPI (n=20-30) online panels in each country to co-design, update and optimise the intervention as required for re-release in later and second phases of the outbreak. At every stage of dissemination we will document reach and impact using unobtrusive measures of usage and handwashing intentions and behaviour. We will triangulate these data with findings from online interviews with a purposive user sample (n=20-30) in each country to understand contextual effects on engagement. We will also carry out a rapid online trial in China (n = 1318) comparing the effects of the initial and adapted versions of the intervention on infection control beliefs, attitudes and behaviour, to evaluate the value of the adaptation process. This work is intended to contribute directly to the management of the outbreak by preventing infection transmission and slowing the spread of infection, so that the healthcare system will have more capacity to cope with demand. This work will also contribute to a better understanding of how to rapidly optimise public health interventions for future emergencies, and the factors influencing behaviour relevant to infection transmission.

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

Last Updated:41 minutes ago

View all publications at Europe PMC

Implementing Germ Defence digital behaviour change intervention via all primary care practices in England to reduce respiratory infections during the COVID-19 pandemic: an efficient cluster randomised controlled trial using the OpenSAFELY platform.

Applying machine-learning to rapidly analyze large qualitative text datasets to inform the COVID-19 pandemic response: comparing human and machine-assisted topic analysis techniques.

Infection control in the home: a qualitative study exploring perceptions and experiences of adhering to protective behaviours in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effectiveness of digital interventions to improve household and community infection prevention and control behaviours and to reduce incidence of respiratory and/or gastro-intestinal infections: a rapid systematic review.

Preventing within household transmission of Covid-19: is the provision of accommodation to support self-isolation feasible and acceptable?

Understanding patterns of adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures: a qualitative interview study.

Infection Control Behavior at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Observational Study of a Web-Based Behavioral Intervention (Germ Defence).

Adapting Behavioral Interventions for a Changing Public Health Context: A Worked Example of Implementing a Digital Intervention During a Global Pandemic Using Rapid Optimisation Methods.

Primary Care implementation of Germ Defence, a digital behaviour change intervention to improve household infection control during the COVID-19 pandemic: A structured summary of a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.