Effect of time-varying adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions on the occurrence of multiple epidemic waves: A modeling study

Joel-Pascal Ntwali N'konzi*, Chidozie Williams Chukwu, Farai Nyabadza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) play a central role in infectious disease outbreak response and control. Their usefulness cannot be overstated, especially during the early phases of a new epidemic when vaccines and effective treatments are not available yet. These interventions can be very effective in curtailing the spread of infectious diseases when adequately implemented and sufficiently adopted by the public. However, NPIs can be very disruptive, and the socioeconomic and cultural hardships that come with their implementation interfere with both the ability and willingness of affected populations to adopt such interventions. This can lead to reduced and unsteady adherence to NPIs, making disease control more challenging to achieve. Deciphering this complex interaction between disease dynamics, NPI stringency, and NPI adoption would play a critical role in informing disease control strategies. In this work, we formulate a general-purpose model that integrates government-imposed control measures and public adherence into a deterministic compartmental epidemic model and study its properties. By combining imitation dynamics and the health belief model to encode the unsteady nature of NPI adherence, we investigate how temporal variations in NPI adherence levels affect the dynamics and control of infectious diseases. Among the results, we note the occurrence of multiple epidemic waves as a result of temporal variations in NPI adherence and a trade-off between the stringency of control measures and adherence. Additionally, our results suggest that interventions that aim at increasing public adherence to NPIs are more beneficial than implementing more stringent measures. Our findings highlight the necessity of taking the socioeconomic and cultural realities of affected populations into account when devising public health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1087683
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022


  • epidemic waves
  • non-pharmaceutical interventions
  • numerical simulations
  • SEIR model
  • time-varying adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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