Designing sustainable behaviour change to prevent spread of contagious diseases in nursing homes

This project aims to design behaviour change interventions to promote behaviour paths that reduce the risk of infection and contagion or to add barriers to the performance of infection and contagion risk-related behaviours in the context of nursing homes.


Nursing homes are the residency of individuals known to be vulnerable to infections. These settings are under pressure due to the increase of the overall elderly population, the reduction of hospitalization periods [1] and the complexity of addressing both healthcare and home needs. Within this context, determined behavioural paths of the residents and the staff are known to potentially influence and increase the risk of infection [2] and transmission of skin diseases as scabies [3]. The recent coronavirus crisis has brought out the importance of behaviour change as a way to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses [4]. However, the knowledge on how to design for sustainable behavioural change in healthcare systems tied to risks of contagion is still scarce. Furthermore, there is a hiatus on the comprehension connecting the design of interventions to promote behaviour change - or add barriers to risk behaviours- and the well-being of resident and staff satisfaction.


This project aims to address this gap and demonstrate that behavioural design methods and user empowerment techniques can promote sustainable change in behavioural paths related to the transmission of diseases and infections. To achieve this goal, the main research goals are:

  1. To conduct a systematic literature review regarding the behavioural paths linked to the spread of infectious and contagious diseases.
  2. To study in which manner potential changes in behavioural routes can impact on staff satisfaction and resident well-being.
  3. To design interventions that may disrupt or redirect risk associated with behavioural routes.
  4. To implement and test such interventions in three nursing homes, taking the third one as a control unit


  1. Carl Suetens. 2012. Healthcare-associated infections in European long-term care facilities: how big is the challenge? Eurosurveillance 17, 35.
  2. Elaine Flanagan, Marco Cassone, Ana Montoya, and Lona Mody. 2016. Infection Control in Alternative Health Care Settings. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America 30, 3. 785–804.
  3. B. M. Andersen, H. Haugen, M.Rasch, A. H.Haugen, and A.Tageson. 2000. Outbreak of scabies in Norwegian nursing homes and home care patients: Control and prevention. Journal of Hospital Infection.
  4. Robert West, Susan Michie, G. James Rubin, Richard Amlôt. 2020. Applying principles of behaviour change to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Nature Human Behaviour, 4, 5. 451–459.


Carolina Falcão Duarte
PhD student
DTU Management
+45 52 82 94 82


Jaap Daalhuizen
Associate Professor
DTU Management
+45 45 25 15 42


Department of Anthropology


Municipality of Copenhagen