Lisa Woodland

Thesis title:

The role of parents in reducing the transmission of infectious diseases in schools


When it comes to infectious diseases, children represent some of society’s most dangerous ‘super-spreaders,’ thanks to their close contact in school and sub-optimal hygiene behaviours. Because of this, vaccination of children and school closures are considered during major disease outbreaks, in order to prevent the spread of disease. Less drastically, public health advice to parents includes strict instructions to keep ill children at home until they are no longer infectious.These rules are often flouted. One survey of 3,040 secondary school pupils in Norway found that 58% reported having attended school in the past year “despite feeling so ill that you should have taken sick leave”. In a survey of 1,042 British parents, 1 in 6 admitted that they would send their child to school even if she were currently experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting.In this PhD we aim to reduce school presenteeism through a better understanding of its underlying causes. We have three objectives:To assess why parents send children to school with an infectious disease and hence identify interventions that may reduce rates of presenteeism. To trial our interventions. To work with parents and policy stakeholders to implement our interventions.

First supervisor:

James Rubin

CASE partner:

Public Health England


1 – Health Practices, Innovation & Implementation