Only half the battle: how communication will be key to ensuring COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Only half the battle: how communication will be key to ensuring COVID-19 vaccine uptake

On 2nd December, the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinefollowing review by the MHRA 

This announcement comes a ground-breaking seven months after the start of clinical trials and marks a major breakthrough, but it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Recent criticism that the approval was “hasty” and the spread of misinformation about vaccines on social media has already resulted in vaccination hesitancy.  

Providing regular, clear and transparent communications about the new vaccine will be critical to increase public confidence and encourage vaccination uptake.  

Globally vaccine mistrust is growing 

Vaccination is the most effective public health intervention available, ranking second only to clean water for disease prevention. Yet in 2019, the World Health Organisation listed vaccination hesitancy as one of the top ten threats to global health; at the time they couldn’t have imagined how soon the potential impact of that threat would be realised 

recent study from UCL found that a fifth of people in the UK said they would be unlikely to get a vaccine for COVID-19. Worryingly, vaccination hesitancy appeared to be higher for the COVID19 vaccine than the flu vaccine, particularly in older adults. These findings clearly highlight the effect of the ongoing spread of misinformation around COVID-19 and the vaccines.  

This growing infodemic, a term used to describe the flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic,  has made it difficult for people to make informed decisions about their health. It’s therefore crucial that communications around COVID-19 vaccines be clear, honest and openly address the public’s concerns.  

Compassion and clear communication will be key to increasing public confidence 

The unprecedented speed of the development of COVID-19 vaccines has led many to, perhaps fairly, question whether they have been rushed. These are legitimate concerns and they need to be treated with respect and compassion to avoid alienating a large group of people and risk them turning to non-trustworthy sources of information 

Professor Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Projecthas emphasised thimportance of trying to understand these concerns and encourages open and balanced dialogue about both risks and benefits.  

Not only are the types of messages important, but the way they are communicated to the public must be considered. The public will inevitably be exposed to rumours and false information, and this must be countered by developing trusted spaces, via social and mainstream media, to share accurate information in an accessible way for the public.  

It is exciting to see that healthcare professionals are already starting to adapt, with live Q&As on social media becoming increasingly popular. Doctors are even starting to use TikTok to bust myths about vaccines 

These strategies, along with other innovative methods to share transparent and compassionate messages, will play critical role in countering the spread of vaccine hesitancy and ultimately ensuring we return to something close to normality in the future.  

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Why publish real world evidence? Maximising the reach and impact of journal articles

Why publish real world evidence? Maximising the reach and impact of journal articles

How can we know what kind of impact the communications outputs we publish are having on our target audiences? Are they cutting through the noise to affect beliefs and behaviours?

In previous blogs, our sister agency AXON have identified an upward trend in the volume of publications presenting real world evidence (RWE) in healthcare journals. This trend was observed irrespective of the impact factor of the journal, which calls into question our industry’s reliance on impact factor when evaluating the reach and impact of published data. So how can we better understand which articles are effective?

The team at Madano have been working closely with AXON and their clients to try and find a more satisfactory answer to the question of impact. While we’re little a way off a definitive answer, we are now able to provide a much more nuanced and client-specific assessment of the value of a publication plan – at brand and therapy area level.

Our starting point was to take a step back and ask: what are our publications for? Addressing this more fundamental question soon had us and our clients thinking differently and we were able to build ‘theories of change’ for individual publication plans – i.e. a framework that articulates the changes in beliefs and behaviours we want our publications to trigger in our target audiences, and the outcomes that need to be measured to detect these changes.

Based on this framework, we are able to build a bespoke model of impact for each client. First, we identified all of the outcomes clients hope that publications could influence; for example, raising awareness of particular biomarkers or improving front-line practice. We then identified data sources that could act as proxies for these outcomes; for example, volume and nature of social media engagement using specific terminology, or seeing publications referenced in treatment guidelines.

To really assess the impact of an individual publication or publication plan as a whole, we needed to situate outcomes associated with our clients’ publications within the broader competitive landscape. To do this, our data science team have built web harvesting scripts to capture the specified outcomes for all publications within a given disease area – a total of around 14,000 across the last five years for psoriasis, for example. We then visualised this landscape as a topic map, highlighting high-frequency and high-impact topics, and comparing average impact scores for groups of publications to benchmark client performance.

The insights this approach generates provide huge value to publications teams and should be the foundation for designing a RW publication strategy. It can help you:

  • Identify gaps in the landscape that, if filled, would create the most impact;
  • Maximise a publication’s impact with key audiences by making informed decisions about author, journal and topic selection;
  • Measure relative performance against your competitors and identify the most effective types of article or outputs for your different audiences;
  • Deliver consistent reporting showing the overall value of each of your publications and their contribution to broader medical objectives.

This bespoke approach delivers a more nuanced answer to the question of publication impact. It generates insights that drive future strategy and tactical decisions to improve reach, engagement and impact. If you would like to hear more about how our approach can support your RWE publication efforts, please get in touch here.

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Madano wins PRCA Public Affairs Award for NIA ‘Rediscover Nuclear’ campaign

Madano wins PRCA Public Affairs Award for NIA ‘Rediscover Nuclear’ campaign

Madano has won the Social Media Campaign of the Year Award at the PRCA Public Affairs Awards for its work on the Nuclear Industry Association’s ‘Rediscover Nuclear’ campaign. 

The campaign reappraised the nuclear industry in light of its ability to create longterm employment, provide a low-carbon source of energy to complement renewables and deliver stable power from within the UK. 

The PRCA described the win as an “incredible achievement in a super tough field. 

To see the campaign in action, please visit the NIA website.