Identify Barriers and Facilitators

Once the behaviors of priority audiences have been explored and more is known about the ideational factors relating to current behaviors, it is important to know what can support or hinder the audiences from engaging in desired behaviors. These are known as barriers and facilitators, and having knowledge of those will help tailor activities in ways that reduce the barriers and maximize the facilitators. Examples of barriers and facilitators to consider for each audience are provided in the table below. This list serves as an example and is not exhaustive; it aims to promote thinking about how different factors can either encourage or prevent behavior change.

Examples of Barriers and Facilitators of Behavior Change for Emergency Communication Response

Barriers Facilitators
Habit: People feel comfortable doing things the way they always have done. It may be difficult for them to accept doing things differently. Positive Deviants: Some individuals may already practice the desired behaviors, and can be used as role models to encourage others to adopt protective behaviors.
Lack of Self-efficacy: Emergencies take populations by surprise, and this can leave them scared or panicked and feeling powerless. This inability or lack of confidence to take protective action may lead to denial, making it harder for behavior change messages to be heard and actioned. Desire to Stop the Emergency: It is likely that the audiences have a significant desire and personal interest to engage in protective behaviors that reduce the emergency.
Fear: In an emergency fear is a common reaction and this may affect the way the population responds to behavior change messages. It may lead to panic or denial of the situation, especially if self-efficacy is low. Fear: Although fear can lead to denial, it can also be a motivating factor if accompanied by messages that advise people on what they can do to reduce their risk. As such, fear can be a facilitator if it supports individuals to reduce their susceptibility to the perceived threat. Risk communicators need to be aware, however, that using scary messages and fearful graphics can backfire and lead to individuals denying that they are at-risk. More about this can be found in the Introduction and in Unit 8.
Rumors and Stigma: In an emergency, rumors tend to spread as people try to address questions and fears. This may also lead to stigma about the issue causing the emergency. Communication Infrastructure: Availability of an extended, functioning and well-coordinated radio network or other communication services, including mobile phone networks, can significantly support the communication response. For example, to collect rumors and address them (and stigma) in real time.
Negative Experiences: Some individuals may have negative experiences of how the emergency is being addressed. This may lead to resistance to response efforts and/or rumors. Positive: Individuals may exist who have recovered from the issue causing the emergency. This can be used to increase the feeling of self-efficacy among the intended audience and to reduce stigma.
Lack of Coordination: Response activities need to be coordinated as do communication messages. Lack of proper coordination, mixed messages or interventions that have had a negative response from the population may hinder response effort. Community Leaders: Religious and traditional leaders can be key in promoting desired behaviors. If they see the importance of addressing the emergency, they can represent a valuable resource for the communication response.
Cultural Practices: Aspects of local cultural practices may contribute to the spread of the emergency or that that prevent protective actions to be taken. Cultural Practices: Just as cultural practices can hinder risk reduction, they may also include aspects that can support protective behaviors.
Lack of Accessible Services: For an outbreak to be brought under control, adequate services need to be available and accessible to the affected population. If they are not, or they are poorly staffed or equipped, this can constitute a barrier to behavior change. Support Services: Organizations and services may exist in the community to support individuals to engage in protective behaviors. These can be capitalized on to encourage behavior change.
Lack of Commodities and Stock Ruptures: During an emergency, it is harder than usual to keep health facilities stocked with the necessary treatments. Ruptures in medication and commodities can impede uptake of health seeking behaviors.

Exercise: Exploring Ideational Factors, Barriers and Facilitators

Worksheet 4.2 was designed to help analyze the intended priority audiences (identified in Worksheet 4.1) according to ideational factors, barriers and facilitators.