Cognitive Neuroscience


BMJ open




Formal publication: August 2021

Authors: Tomio, A. A., Dottori, M., Hesse, E., Torrente, F., Flichtentrei, D., & Ibanez, A. M.


Objectives: We developed (a) a survey to investigate the knowledge of childhood health experts on public policies and behavioural insights (BI), as well as its use in Latin American and the Caribbean countries (LACs), and (b) an intervention (randomised controlled trial) to test the influence of nudges on the effect of a simulated public health programme communication.

Participants and settings: A total of 2003 LACs childhood health professionals participated in the study through a Hispanic online platform.

Primary and secondary outcomes: We used regression models analysing expertise-related information, individual differences and location. We extracted several outcome variables related to (a) ‘Public Policy Knowledge Index’ based on the participants’ degree of knowledge on childhood health public policies and (b) BI knowledge, perceived effectiveness and usefulness of a simulated public programme communication. We also analysed a ‘Behavioural Insights Knowledge Index’ (BIKI) based on participants’ performance in BI questions.

Results: In general, health professionals showed low BI knowledge (knowledge of the term BI: χ2=210.29, df=1 and p<0.001; BIKI: χ2=160.5, df=1 and p<0.001), and results were modulated by different factors (age, academic formation, public policy knowledge and location). The use of BI principles for the communication of the public programme revealed higher impact and clarity ratings from professionals than control messages.

Conclusions: Our findings provide relevant knowledge about BI in health professionals to inform governmental and non-governmental organisations’ decision-making processes related with childhood public policies and BI designs.