Integrated Behavior Change Campaign to prevent violence against Healthcare Personnel

Violence against Healthcare Providers is a prevalent and widespread phenomenon condemned internationally. Under the Health Care in Danger (HCID) initiative, the International Red Cross (ICRC) in Pakistan aimed to address the issue of violence against health workers in the emergency departments of public hospitals. White Rice worked with the ICRC to tackle the layered and complex issue at hand. We developed an integrative campaign focused on building empathy between patient attendants and healthcare staff to ultimately reduce the instances of violent outbreaks. 


Challenge + Opportunity:

Healthcare professionals work tirelessly to treat every patient that comes through the emergency room doors. Yet for those that need care, inadequate hospital infrastructure, long wait times, and a lack of communication raise frustrations to a breaking point. As a result, those accompanying patients often direct their anger towards healthcare staff. We recognized the behavioral bottlenecks of the patient journey and empathized with their misdirected frustrations. But violence against healthcare staff creates an unsafe environment where valuable time is lost that could be spent saving lives. We developed a multi-faceted campaign to build the much-needed trust that was lacking for healthcare professionals among patient attendants.  




To develop a thorough and integrative design focusing on all the touch points, our team embedded themselves in two large hospitals in Karachi and Peshawar conducting immersive HCD research, going as far as to become patients themselves to map the customer experience process. We identified trigger points for anger through day-long observations, visual ethnographies, heuristic analysis, interviews, and FGDs with patients, attendants, and healthcare staff. 


The resulting campaign evolved from a recognized need for a shift in perspective among patient attendants. The campaign, ‘Bherosa Karain’ called on patients to trust healthcare staff, even amidst their frustration and anger. It retold the story of doctor-patient care through a contextual lens, depicting what happens when time is lost in fighting with healthcare staff– patients risk losing their lives. This message extended to urge attendants to practice empathy, as healthcare staff works tirelessly in the interest of their patients. With the lesson that every minute is precious, the campaign promoted mindfulness and intentionality in future interactions. 


The campaign aimed to create change on multiple levels. We generated an emotional, empathic mass media campaign through TV and radio ads. The government of Pakistan endorsed the message of the campaign, while an extensive networking effort by the ICRC lobbied for the enforcement of policies towards safer healthcare settings. Celebrities also came on board to show their support and advocate for the well-being of the public health industry. 


A widespread Social Media campaign distributed educational material on medical emergency preparedness. Hundreds of youth parliamentarians, comprising of passionate youth leaders, took the initiative of reaching the public on the ground. They carried out on-the-ground communication efforts across Pakistan, approaching people with discussions on how they’d respond when presented with a medical emergency. They also distributed useful information in the form of wallet-sized info-graphics. 




By employing a behavioral lens to the issue of violence against healthcare personnel, we were able to create messaging that facilitated attendants to rethink their actions towards nurses, doctors, and staff. Multi-channel messaging equipped attendants with a pathway to be more prepared when faced with an unexpected crisis. The social media campaign reached an audience of 4 million in a matter of months. 


From policymakers to celebrities, the campaign brought together a wide range of change-makers to bring attention to this critical issue. The interventions of this campaign are being rolled out in over 100 hospitals across the country. By leveraging the power of empathy and utilizing iterative and effective messaging, we can shape better healthcare experiences.