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Providing Feedback to Promote Long Term Adherence

Updated: May 26, 2020

Long-term lockdown and shelter in place orders take their toll on us all. Leadership needs to provide feedback not just on the number of cases and deaths, but also in relation to the effects of the shelter in place and lockdowns. Individuals cannot gauge whether their efforts, which come at a personal cost, are working in the fight against COVID-19. Individuals need to know how and if these individually demanding efforts are affecting the fight against COVID-19 in order to build a sense of collective efficacy, the belief that our individual efforts to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe are also contributing to the safety of our community.

What Works:

Providing effective feedback related to our individual response is critical when in times of isolation, as we are not only separated from our communities but also inundated with numbers related to cases and deaths. The City of Chicago released two data visualizations via social media related to Chicago’s progress addressing COVID-19. In these, the feedback is clear that the city of Chicago has been making progress in the fight against COVID-19.

Effective feedback should leverage the following principles:

  • Promote collective efficacy: There is a consistent message throughout these social media posts of community with words like ‘we’, 'all of us' and ‘our city.’ These further the message that if we take action on an individual level, we are contributing to the success of our community.

  • Provide specific feedback at a local level: In the Slowing Transmission data visualization, Chicago residents see that their shelter-in-place actions have led to a flattening of the curve in relation to the the state of Illinois and the United States.

  • Highlight social proof: In the 'Staying at Home' data visualization, the city maps demonstrate how Chicago residents have increased their efforts to stay at home during the shelter-in-place. Additionally, residents can identify their neighborhood and evaluate how they are doing in relation to the rest of Chicago which could prompt further adherence to the shelter in place order.

What to Avoid:

Avoid framing messages in the past test as it could imply that the work is complete. Utilizing present and future tense wording along with dynamic framing messages in terms of what we are going to continue to do provides more effective communication.

Who is this most useful to:

Governments and policy makers, Public health experts


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