Very pleased I got the opportunity to participate in the SOUND Control project by doing a four-week STSM in Nottingham (UK). This STSM was part of working group 4 and led by Dr. Jasmeet Kaler. The aim of the STSM was considering the application of a systems / socio-ecological approach to a disease control output-based framework.
During the four weeks I spend in the UK, I tried to understand the ins-and-outs of socio-ecological approaches in general and I did a literature review to identify what is known about farmer behaviour in relation to disease control for cattle in European countries. In this review, an investigation of applied (health psychology) theories, methods and described socio-ecological determinants (barriers and facilitators) for each country was included. Additionally, I learned about new methods used in sociology to understand structures of behaviour and to link behaviour to intervention strategies (COM-B method for example). We applied this framework on papers related to biosecurity. By the end of the STSM, we identified knowledge gaps in 1) understanding the complex structures of farmer behaviour and 2) in our current study designs. The fourth week, we spend on exploring methods for modelling behaviour. The conclusion of this STSM was that farmer behaviour is of great importance in animal health, but understanding and especially modelling it, is difficult. Current mathematical models are only capable of modelling cost-benefits, but from this review it was clear that much more determinants play an important role in farmers decision-making.
The STSM was over before I noticed. I had such a great time and I feel very blessed I could work with Jasmeet and her team. I gained a lot of knowledge which was useful for the SOUND Control project but also for my career as a veterinary epidemiologist. I would recommend doing a STSM to anyone.
Royal GD, the Netherlands