Using Behavioral Interventions to Urge COVID-19 Vaccine Adoption

“Human behavior is a function of the person and the environment.”

– Kurt Lewin, Founder of Social Psychology

In April 2021, though COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, vaccination rates remained persistently low in Louisiana. 

Lirio designed and launched a digital health solution for one of the state’s health systems to move their employees and patients toward vaccination – with an emphasis on overcoming individual and environmental barriers to action. Here are responses to the initial vaccination messages: 

Screenshot of text message from user unwilling to receive vaccination: "Didn't wear a mask. Not getting the shot"
Screenshot of text message from user unwilling to receive vaccination: "My happiness and health isn't going to come from the vaccine"
Screenshot of text message from user unwilling to receive vaccination: "My relative died 3 days after receiving the covid vaccine"

Lirio’s solution motivated four behaviors on the vaccination journey.

Over time, we found that different behavioral interventions motivated four different behaviors on the vaccination journey:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Showing up to a vaccine appointment
  3. Obtaining dose 1
  4. Obtaining dose 2

Lirio sent more than 2.2 million messages encouraging COVID-19 vaccination.

We used behavioral design to create digital health intervention content elements infused with behavioral science to overcome barriers to and amplify the benefits of vaccination. Our AI platform then assembled the content elements into hundreds of unique message combinations, ensuring there was a message for everyone. Finally, our deep learning agent matched the message to the people most likely to respond and continuously optimized them.

Couple hugging after receiving covid 19 vaccine
Hands holding up "i'm vaccinated. Are you?" stickers

The images and language used in each message incorporated various cognitive biases – like incentives, social comparison, and future orientation – that aligned with each step toward complete vaccination. 

Through the deployment of behavioral interventions, we learned that the individual recipient, as well as the context and timing of each message, significantly impacted the responses. 

Susanne Blazek

Hear from the Expert

Our Director of Research Operations, Susanne Blazek, Ph.D., shared about our Louisiana vaccination initiative at the Virginia HIMSS Annual Conference, focusing on key lessons learned about nudging people to better health.

Susanne is an expert in social psychology and behavioral economics, which she applies to her work leading our analytics team in the research and publication processes for randomized controlled trials and resulting behavioral insights. She has consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies, sits on the Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies scientific committee, and is a frequent presenter at academic conferences.

Watch her presentation to learn more about our complete process of moving Louisiana populations toward vaccine adoption and what this means for sustainable health behavior change.

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