UCL Institute of Health Informatics


New Paper: Did People Understand Local COVID Tiers, Guidance and Restrictions?

20 January 2022

IHI's Prof Henry Potts along with Prof Susan Michie and the CORSAIR team publish new paper - 'Tiered restrictions for COVID-19 in England: knowledge, motivation, and self-reported behaviour'.

The first COVID-19 restrictions in England were nationwide, but different infection rates across the country led to a more localised approach being taken. In October 2020, the government introduced a three-tier system. The devolved nations also introduced similar localised systems. Knowledge about COVID-19 restrictions has often been sub-optimal, with people finding guidance confusing. In a new study, the CORSAIR team sought to understand whether people understood what tier they were in and what that meant for what they could do through a representative survey of 1728 participants. The first author was Dr Louise Smith (King's College London), while UCL's Professors Henry Potts and Susan Michie were part of the team.

Over 80% of participants correctly identified which tier they lived in, but knowledge of the specific restrictions applying to them was variable. 73% were confident they understood which tier they were in, while 71% were confident they understood the guidance for their tier. Confidence was associated with being older and living in a less deprived area. 73% reported being motivated to adhere to restrictions in their local area. Motivation was associated with being female and older.

There was some indication that nuanced guidance (e.g. behaviour allowed in some settings but not others) was more poorly understood than guidance which was absolute (i.e. behaviour is either allowed or not allowed).

Read the full paper