Covid-19 SCRUB survey waves 1 and 2

What are Australians doing and who are they listening to?

Covid-19 SCRUB survey waves 1 and 2

Actionable insights

* please note that this is part of an ongoing study and that updates will be provided in separate blog posts.

BehavioursWorks Australia is leading the Australian chapter of the Survey of COVID-19 Responses to Understand Behaviour (SCRUB) project, which aims to give policymakers actionable insights into public attitudes and behaviours relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 120 international collaborators are now involved in the SCRUB project and over 4,000 people in 40 countries have contributed to the first and second waves of data collection.

What are we collecting?

The survey measures behaviour, behavioural drivers, COVID-19 attitudes and beliefs and demographic variables. Outputs include:

  • An interactive dashboard of survey responses,
  • Open data for research academics to answer urgent behavioural research questions and use as a resource for future pandemic preparedness.
Current status

Following are a few findings from the second wave of Australian data (collected between 21/4 and 4/5/2020).

The Monash Sustainable Development Institute funded this wave of data collection, with future waves to be funded by the Victorian Government.

What were people doing?

The graph below (a screenshot from the SCRUB interactive dashboard) summarises responses to some of our behavioural questions. The blank rows at the top of the graph are questions asked in Wave 1, but not Wave 2.

As the graph shows, the majority of Australians were performing the five key behaviours recommended by the Australian Government Department of Health to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The key protective behaviour, which Australians had the lowest level of compliance with, was not touching their face with unwashed hands.

Of greater concern was that over 40% were not often avoiding or cancelling:

  • meetings with vulnerable populations
  • small gatherings and
  • large gatherings.

Fortunately, stockpiling behaviours were uncommon across both waves, as is the use of natural, alternative, or prescribed medicines to ward off or treat COVID-19.

Which groups were doing protective behaviours more or less often than others?

This table is from an initial report on our wave 2 findings (see here, open in browser).

As shown above, we found that the majority of Australians were doing key protective behaviours.

Men were less likely to perform protective behaviours than females. Older adults (50+) were also more likely to practice protective behaviours, such as handwashing and social distancing in the last 7 days than those below 50.

However, they were also less likely to avoid touching their faces.

Confidence in authorities

The graph below is a screenshot from the SCRUB interactive dashboard, which summarises responses to questions about confidence in authorities.

Confidence in authorities changed between Wave 1 and Wave 2, with the World Health Organisation precipitously falling from second-most trusted to least-trusted.

National and state authorities remained highly trusted to minimise the harms from COVID-19.

What are some implications for policymakers?

Here are three insights and implications for policymakers that emerge from the data:

  1. Insight: Men are doing key behaviours less than women (ranging from 2 to 7%, depending on the behaviour). Implication: Prioritise targeting relevant behaviour change in males.
  2. Insight: 18-29-year-olds perform protective behaviours significantly less often than other groups. Implication: Prioritise targeting relevant behaviour change in young adults.
  3. Insight: National health organisations are the most trusted source of information and the World Health Organisation is the least trusted. Implication: Seek to attribute recommendations to the Department of Health where possible to bolster credibility and uptake. Don’t attribute information to the World Health Organisation unless absolutely necessary.
Learn more or get involved

To learn more about the SCRUB survey, please visit the website and interactive dashboard. You can access the survey and data here.

Please email if you would like to use the survey to collect data in your country or organisation (voluntarily or funded).