Implementing social distancing policy measures in the battle against the coronavirus: protocol of a comparative study of Denmark and Sweden

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  • Per Nilsen, Department of Health, Medical and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Sverige
  • Ida Seing, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Sverige
  • Carin Ericsson, Cardiology and Speciality Medicine Centre, Region Östergötland, Linköping, Sverige
  • Ove Andersen, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Department of Clinical Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager, Danmark
  • Nina Thórný Stefánsdóttir, Department of Clinical Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre
  • ,
  • Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen, Univ Southern Denmark, University of Southern Denmark, Danmark
  • Thomas Kallemose, Department of Clinical Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Danmark
  • Jeanette Wassar Kirk

Background: Social distancing policies to ensure physical distance between people have become a crucial strategy in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus. The aim of this project is to analyze and compare social distancing policies implemented in Denmark and Sweden in 2020. Despite many similarities between the two countries, their response to the coronavirus pandemic differed markedly. Whereas authorities in Denmark initiated mandatory regulations and many severe restrictions, Swedish authorities predominantly promoted voluntary recommendations.

Methods: The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in Denmark and Sweden with different disciplinary backgrounds. The project is based on a comparative analysis, an approach that attempts to reach conclusions beyond single cases and to explain differences and similarities between objects of analysis and relations between objects against the backdrop of their contextual conditions. Data will be gathered by means of document analysis, qualitative interviews, and a questionnaire survey to address three research questions: (1) What social distancing policies regarding the coronavirus have been formulated and implemented, who are the policymakers behind the policy measures, which implementers are expected to implement the measures, and who are the targets that the measures ultimately seek to influence? (2) How have the social distancing policies and policy measures been justified, and what types of knowledge form the basis for the measures? and (3) What are the differences and similarities in citizens' perceptions of acceptability and compliance with social distancing policy measures in relation to the coronavirus?

Discussion: To create a structure for addressing the three research questions, the project applies a theoretical framework informed by the policy and implementation science literatures. The framework consists of five interdependent domains that have an impact on policy implementation: (1) policymakers, (2) policy characteristics, (3) implementers, (4) targets, and (5) policy environment. Details of the framework are provided in the article.

TidsskriftImplementation Science Communications
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2020

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© The Author(s) 2020.

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