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Projects of the joint German-Austrian call 2013

Project CAVE - Community Engagement and Vulnerabilities in Coping with Epidemics

|   Call 2020

The CAVE project aims at determining and capturing vulnerable groups affected by epidemic events in Austria and to enhance their accessibility and inclusion in public health measures through newly developed communication technologies.

The CAVE project will connect recent findings from social science research on disaster relief with new communication technologies to develop applicable solutions for pandemic events in Austria. It aims to analyse future risks and vulnerabilities and how they can be tackled through social cooperation.

CAVE is based on two central scientific approaches that are applied since years in research on disaster relief: community engagement and vulnerability–assessment. Community engagement relies on strengthening cooperation between policy makers, relief agencies and the people affected by crisis. The inclusion of persons involved, stakeholders and local counterparts in decisions on crisis prevention and –management enhances acceptance of necessary measures. Notably during acute health crisis like epidemics community engagement can be decisive for successful cooperation. The so-called vulnerability–assessment is a social science method to define and capture groups of people who are at risk. The aim is to improve capacities to reach and protect vulnerable groups.

In the CAVE project we want to:

  1. Develop accurate models of community engagement and improve the nexus between community engagement and vulnerability–assessment. 
  2. Define and localize vulnerable groups swiftly and reliably so that health measures can be implemented faster.
  3. Effectively include vulnerable groups that are usually difficult to reach using newly adapted communication technologies.

Together with our partners we will develop scenarios how to make vulnerable groups detectable and representable in future epidemics and how to include them in applicable models of community engagement.

In a first step, Covid-19 experiences concerning communication and accessibility will retrospectively be collected in interviews and group discussions. Based on these results, recommendations and strategies for quicker detection of and better communication with vulnerable groups will be developed. With regard to Covid-19, particularly elderly people in care and people with mental disabilities as well as their relatives and nursing personnel are considered as vulnerable groups. As a result of the CAVE project the definition of this group of vulnerable persons could be extended.

A further step in the CAVE project is the creation of a geographical positioning system of vulnerable groups. This serves as basis for the design of innovative communication technologies to enhance accessibility and notifications on public health measures. Finally, the results of the CAVE project will be presented to representatives of vulnerable groups and the public.

Project lead
Ap.Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Ruth Kutalek
Medizinische Universität Wien, Zentrum für Public Health, Abteilung für Sozial- und Präventivmedizin

List of further project- and cooperation partners
Paris-Lodron Universität Salzburg (PLUS)
Universität Innsbruck (UIBK)
Bundesministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Pflege und Konsumentenschutz (BMSGPK)
Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung (BMLV)
Österreichisches Rotes Kreuz (ÖRK)
Disaster Competence Network Austria (DCNA)
Lebenshilfe GmbH
Spatial Services GmbH
safeREACH GmbH

Project manager
Ap.Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Ruth Kutalek

Medizinische Universität Wien
Zentrum für Public Health
Kinderspitalgasse 15 / 1. Stock
1090 Wien
Telefon: +43 (0)1 40160-34607
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