Social Sciences Analytics Cell (CASS)
The integration and use of multidisciplinary and integrated analysis to better understand and respond to epidemics
The Social Science Analytics Cell (CASS) is an operational research unit that provides real time integrated analysis to influence decision-making of response actors involved in the response to epidemics. The CASS in DRC consist of mobile teams with national and international researchers who conduct rapid studies to better understand and explain the dynamics around an epidemic and the impacts of the epidemic on communities and community health.
The aim of the CASS is to provide a better understanding of outbreak dynamics to support evidence-based decision making during public health emergencies. The CASS prioritizes :
- Conducting rapid studies to support a better understanding of outbreak dynamics and to explain different trends in outbreak analytics ;
- Providing near real-time evidence to inform outbreak response decision making ;
- Supporting different actors to use evidence and co-develop actions as well as documenting actions agreed on and tracking over time the use of evidence in decision-making ;
- Creating space for Integrated Multidisciplinary Outbreak Analytics: bringing together data sources for improved understanding of outbreak dynamics and public health outcomes ;
- Training researchers and developing national partnerships to strengthen the use of integrated social science analysis for epidemics.
The “IMOA” approach
The results of the CASS studies are analysed with different sources of data using an Integrated Multidisciplinary Outbreak Analytics ("IMOA") approach, in order to better compare and understand the evolution of health trends, their causes and impacts. This approach informs evidence-based decision-making by providing solid and comprehensive evidence to those involved in prevention and responses to public health emergencies.
More broadly, the IMOA approach is intended to be used during an outbreak or public health emergency to:
- Understand and map community, context and factors which may influence transmission, spread and scale of an outbreak ;
- Influence the collection of epidemiological and biomedical data and to promote inclusive collection and analysis through a social epidemiological perspective ;
- Map health services against population size & density, understand movements & markets influence on health services availability & use ;
- Measure changes in behaviour and perception over time across groups ;
- Explain barriers and enablers, and causes of differential trends in epidemiological data ;
- Monitor interactions and trust with stakeholders in the response and interventions ;
- Monitor broader impacts on communities over time ;
- To understand how to exit safely and do no harm.
The CASS operates as a service for all actors interested in making better use of integrated analytics in outbreaks. For enquiries about the tools, to request additional support or to be included in the CASS network of research partners, please contact:
CASS Manager, UNICEF Public Health Emergencies