UCL Institute of Health Informatics


New Paper: Who is Engaging with Lateral Flow Testing for COVID-19 in the UK?

14 February 2022

The CORSAIR team, including UCL's Professor Henry Potts and Professor Susan Michie, investigate uptake of LFT testing from April to June 2021 in England and Scotland.

NHS Test and Trace Self Test box is open with all of the elements spread out on the table including the pipettes, swabs, test packs and instructions.

The UK Government has encouraged people to take regular lateral flow tests (LFTs) as part of its measures against COVID-19, but did the message get through? In a new paper, the CORSAIR team used data collected April-June 2021 from England and Scotland (which had the same advice on testing).

Increased uptake of testing by individuals was associated with being vaccinated, being employed, having been out to work in the last week, and working in a sector that adopted LFTs early. People who had heard more about LFTs and knew they were eligible to receive regular LFTs were also more likely to have tested. LFTs use was also higher in people who reported having COVID-19 symptoms in the previous week, even though the guidance at the time was that these people should take a PCR test. This may suggest people don't understand when to use the different tests.

Overall, the uptake of lateral flow testing is low. Encouraging testing through workplaces and places of study is likely to increase uptake. Increasing  people's knowledge that everyone is eligible for regular asymptomatic testing and addressing common misconceptions may drive uptake.

This is the latest study from the CORSAIR team. The paper was led by Louise Smith at King's College London, while the team includes IHI's Professor Henry Potts and UCL's Professor Susan Michie.

Read the full paper