"We are very confident in the mission and hope to be useful to the country," said Margarida Gaspar de Matos, of the Faculty of Human Motricity, University of Lisbon, adding that the team is "very committed to help (re)build the health of the population from scientific results already studied in Portugal and other countries.
Margarida Gaspar Matos declined to give further details about the 'task force', arguing that the team, "young and with national and international experience in behavioural sciences", is today in a "planning day" and, on the other hand, is waiting for its officialisation by the Government.
Público newspaper reports that the 'task force' of behavioural scientists will advise, until the end of this year, on the production of studies that will help the Government to better convey the message to the population on the behaviours recommended to combat the pandemic.
The group's mission is to contribute to "a change in individual and collective behaviours" and "ensure that different individuals and their communities maintain" the "behaviours recommended as most effective in each moment and social context, in response to the pandemic and in the moments that will follow it", explains Público, citing the Health Minister's order to be published.
According to the dispatch, quoted by the newspaper, "behavioural changes can only be achieved with the structured application of behavioural science" that allows "identifying, explaining, predicting and intervening on behaviour", based on the "study of fluctuations" in relation to "perceptions of the social system on the evolution of the pandemic".
An example of these fluctuations are the "behaviours of prevention of the risks of contagion by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in different moments and social contexts and by different people".
Scientists can also study the variations "in individual, social and environmental factors that allow their facilitation or inhibition and consequent explanation and prediction of changes in behaviour and expectations of future adherence".
The team also includes António Silva, from the Higher Institute of Economics and Management; Cristina Godinho, from the Faculty of Human Sciences of the Catholic University; Duarte Sequeira, from the Shared Services of the Ministry of Health; Marta Moreira Marques, from the Trinity Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation; Miguel Arriaga, from the Directorate-General of Health; Osvaldo Santos, from the Institute of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon; and Rui Gaspar, from the Faculty of Human Sciences of the Catholic University.
The connection with the executive is made through the Deputy Secretary of State of the Prime Minister, Tiago Antunes.