UCL Institute of Health Informatics


New Paper: Intention to adhere to test, trace, and isolate

14 December 2021

IHI's Henry Potts and team publish a new paper "Intention to adhere to test, trace, and isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic"

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Contact tracing remains central to the management of COVID-19, especially in the light of the new Variant of Concern Omicron. However, engagement with NHS Test and Trace by people with symptoms has been poor throughout the pandemic. The CORSAIR study group, including the UCL Institute of Health Informatics' Prof Henry Potts, has published a new paper studying predictors of engagement.

Poor engagement may be for a variety of reasons. Past research, including the group's BMJ paper earlier this year, has focused on socio-demographic factors, but this new study, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, considers psychological and behavioural factors. The researchers found that intention to self-isolate, request a test and share details of contacts - the key elements of engaging with Test and Trace - were associated with perceiving a greater risk from COVID-19 to people in the United Kingdom, knowing that COVID-19 transmission can be asymptomatic, and agreeing that one's personal behaviour has an impact on COVID-19 transmission.

The study looked at these associations at four different points during the pandemic: during the first lockdown, summer 2020, during the second lockdown, and during the third lockdown. The relationships seen were broadly stable over time.

Communications to the public should aim to increase knowledge that COVID-19 can be transmitted even if someone does not have symptoms, promote perceived control over the transmission, and highlight that adhering to protective behaviours will protect others; these may encourage adoption of preventive behaviours.

Read the full paper