Health Literacy
Vol. 2, No.1 2023


Need to Increase Repertoire of Messages for Behavior Change:Lessons Learned from COVID-19

Tsuyoshi Okuharai

Department of Health Communication, School of Public Health, The University of Tokyo

One aspect that emerged from COVID-19 was the need to increase the repertoire of behavior change messages. Health communication for behavior change has been biased toward providing knowledge based on the deficit model. However, if knowledge provided is simply repeated, message fatigue occurs. If that occurs, the recipients of the message experience psychological resistance, which diminishes the message’s effectiveness and may also induce behavior contrary to recommendations. To reduce message fatigue, it is necessary to increase the repertoire of messages. Enhancing that repertoire demands moving away from communication that simply teaches toward communication that adds feeling. This article proposes three strategies to increase the repertoire of behavior change messages: promoting affective determinants of health behavior, utilizing narratives, and appealing to fundamental human needs.

Conveying Medical Information in COVID-19

Satoshi Kutsuna

Department of Infection Prevention and Control, Graduate School of Medicine Faculty of Medicine, Osaka University

COVID-19 was the first pandemic since social media became commonplace. The ability for anyone to convey information broadly has the advantage of allowing experts to pass information directly to the general public. However, it has also led to the spreading of false information without scientific basis that has been believed and disseminated. I would like to discuss the challenges of conveying information in COVID-19.

Local COVID-19 response and health literacy of people from an administrative perspective

Shuji Tounai

Oita Prefecture,Dept. Welfare & Health

Since the emergence of COVID-19, I as a spokesperson of Oita Prefecture in Japan have tried to provide easily understandable evidence-based messages. I posted messages that aroused a sense of crisis and encouraged action to avoid risks on the prefectural website and held regular press conferences based on analysis results of the infection situation. Three issues in risk communication emerged. First was balancing public interest and privacy protection. Initially, it was believed that providing information about the occupations of infected individuals and identifying facilities where clusters occurred would be of high public interest in terms of infection control. However, the result was prejudice and discrimination against specific occupations and disparagement against those facilities. Second was accurately communicating infection risk. The main route of transmission in Japan changed from droplet and contact transmission to aerosol transmission. The infection field changed as the pandemic progressed. The emergence of mutant strains greatly changed the infectivity and risk of severe disease. That risk varied greatly in Japan and was age-dependent. Third was communicating severe situations at clinical sites. The general public did not understand such expressions as 50% hospital bed occupancy rate. Such information did not encourage people to take preventive actions

Corporate response to COVID-19 and health literacy in the workplace

Hiroshi Fukuda

Department of Advanced Preventive Medicine and Health Literacy, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University

In early 2020, companies faced the challenge of balancing economic activities and infection prevention in the workplace due to COVID-19. Globally, many companies were forced to implement infection control measures, such as addressing the needs of expatriate employees. Owing to a lack of evidence and experience, it was helpful for companies to share and discuss good practices. According to a survey conducted by Sanpokai (a research organization examining multidisciplinary occupational health staff, 122 companies responded to this survey) during the first state of emergency declaration in Japan in May 2020, almost all companies were affected: about 60% of respondents reported physical and mental stress and lifestyle issues related to teleworking. The shift to online occupational health activities prompted the expansion of three occupational health and safety management areas (work environment management, work management, and health management) to include both the workplace and the home: this involved developing working environments in the home, breaks every 30 minutes to prevent long sitting times, physical condition checks using life-logging applications, and online counseling with occupational physicians and public health nurses. Workplace vaccination began in Japan in June 2021, primarily at large companies, and played a significant role in achieving mass immunity. Companies recognized the importance of digital transformation to remain competitive. The job market is particularly receptive to digital health promotion owing to its culture, the shared goal of delivering corporate value, and a workforce that embraces technology. Despite the challenge of balancing corporate activities with COVID-19, there is a need for new health education and workplace health promotion that leverages the strengths of the workplace.

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