Applying principles of behaviour change to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission

Robert West*, Susan Michie, G. James Rubin, Richard Amlot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

290 Citations (Scopus)


Human behaviour is central to transmission of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and changing behaviour is crucial to preventing transmission in the absence of pharmaceutical interventions. Isolation and social distancing measures, including edicts to stay at home, have been brought into place across the globe to reduce transmission of the virus, but at a huge cost to individuals and society. In addition to these measures, we urgently need effective interventions to increase adherence to behaviours that individuals in communities can enact to protect themselves and others: use of tissues to catch expelled droplets from coughs or sneezes, use of face masks as appropriate, hand-washing on all occasions when required, disinfecting objects and surfaces, physical distancing, and not touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth. There is an urgent need for direct evidence to inform development of such interventions, but it is possible to make a start by applying behavioural science methods and models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-459
Number of pages9
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: No funding information.

Open Access: No Open Access.

Publisher Copyright: © 2020, Springer Nature Limited.

Citation: West, R., Michie, S., Rubin, G.J. et al. Applying principles of behaviour change to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Nat Hum Behav 4, 451–459 (2020).



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