RAPID: Measuring Uptake, Persistence, and Impact of Behavioral Interventions On Respiratory Viruses

Project: Research project

Project Details


This study investigates the reasons for differences in disease transmission between populations as a result of behavioral changes chosen by individuals and separating those effects from top-down, mandated changes. Top-down behavioral interventions are used to reduce the transmission of pathogens when pharmaceutical treatments (e.g., drugs and vaccines) are not available. They are often designed to minimize movement and contacts and include school and workplace closures or event cancellations. In additionally, individuals may choose to temporarily change their behavior to reduce their risk of infection. Such individual changes are difficult to predict or measure, making it challenging to measure their effectiveness in reducing disease incidence and spread. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 prompted widespread county-level restrictions alongside individual behavioral changes, such as staying at home and wearing masks. Despite experiencing the same county level restrictions, university students experienced very high rates of COVID-19 per capita, while non-students reported very few COVID-19 cases per capita. In contrast, neither population experienced seasonal influenza during the first winter of COVID-19. By comparing behaviors and disease incidence in these population, this research will help plan and design more effective and efficient outbreak management strategies for re-emerging or novel pathogens. This project supports training of early-career scientists. This study investigates the 1) uptake, 2) persistence over time, and 3) impact of top-down behavioral interventions and individual behavioral changes on COVID-19 and influenza incidence. By integrating passive and active data collection, researchers will quantify changes in behaviors in central Pennsylvania. Comparing behavioral changes during top-down interventions to other times helps disentangle mandated behavioral changes from individual choices. Longitudinal passive surveillance data will provide frequent measures of population-level movements before and after SARS-CoV-2 emerged. Traffic cameras will quantify vehicular and pedestrian traffic while mobile devices will provide proxy measures of total visits to points of interest, time spent outside the home, mixing between students and non-students, and so forth. This project also will longitudinally survey students (N=684) and non-students (N=1313) to measure individual adherence to top-down interventions and the voluntary adoption of other behavioral changes. Surveys will ask about movement, staying home, gatherings, masking, hand washing, vaccination, and so forth. At each time step, survey participants will provide blood for serological analyses to detect prior infection. Researchers will incorporate dynamic measures of behavioral interventions and individual behaviors into disease models to estimate the dynamics in the force of infection for COVID-19 and influenza in students and non-students. These models will measure the impacts of specific behaviors on disease transmission and will inform future interventions.This project was funded in collaboration with the CDC to support rapid-response research projects to further advance federal infectious disease modeling capabilities.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date2/1/221/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $200,000.00


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