The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that institutions of higher education should develop a plan to slow the spread of COVID-19 among students and faculty, and reports those at highest risk of contracting it are those who regularly engage in in-person activities, events, and learning (CDC, 2020). Therefore, the objective of this research project was to develop a health communication campaign, called Disclose & Discuss, promoting open and honest discourse between Northeastern University students about COVID-19 risks to make safer plans prior to interacting. We conducted three phases of formative research. Results from an initial focus group (n = 9) revealed that students do not regularly engage in COVID-19 status related discussions before interacting. Analyses of data from an online survey (n = 178) demonstrated that engaging in these disclosures was most strongly correlated with self-efficacy (r = 0.18, p < .05). Finally, message design and channel selection were informed by a review of the literature on the Health Belief Model, Politeness Theory, and face-saving techniques. We recommend that Northeastern utilize an Instagram account, opinion leaders, and on-campus news outlets to encourage ongoing use of a conversation checklist to feel more comfortable disclosing and discussing their COVID-19 testing habits and social behaviors.
CDC, 2020. COVID-19: Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities/considerations.html