Engagement with daily testing instead of self-isolating in contacts of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2

Alex F Martin*, Sarah Denford, Nicola Love, Derren Ready, Isabel Oliver, Richard Amlôt, G. James Rubin, Lucy Yardley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Background
In December 2020, Public Health England with NHS Test and Trace initiated a pilot study in which close contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19 were given the option to carryout lateral flow device antigen tests at home, as an alternative to self-isolation for 10–14 days. In this study, we evaluated engagement with daily testing, and assessed levels of adherence to the rules relating to behaviour following positive or negative test results.

Methods
We conducted a service evaluation of the pilot study, examining survey responses from a subset of those who responded to an evaluation questionnaire. We used an online cross-sectional survey offered to adult contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases who consented to daily testing. We used a comparison group of contacts who were not offered testing and instead self-isolated.

Results
Acceptability of daily testing was lower among survey respondents who were not offered the option of testing and among people from ethnic minority groups. Overall, 52% of respondents reported being more likely to share details of people that they had been in contact with following a positive test result, if they knew that their contacts would be offered the option of daily testing. Only 2% reported that they would be less likely to provide details of their contacts. On the days that they were trying to self-isolate, 19% of participants reported that they left the house, with no significant group differences. Following a negative test, 13% of respondents reported that they increased their contacts, but most (58%) reported having fewer risky contacts.

Conclusions
Our data suggest that daily testing is potentially acceptable, may facilitate sharing contact details of close contacts among those who test positive for COVID-19, and promote adherence to self-isolation. A better understanding is needed of how to make this option more acceptable for all households. The impact of receiving a negative test on behaviour remains a risk that needs to be monitored and mitigated by appropriate messaging. Future research should examine attitudes and behaviour in a context where infection levels are lower, testing is more familiar, and restrictions on activity have been reduced.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1067 (2021)
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume21
Issue number1067
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2021

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Covid19

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • policy
  • adherence
  • engagement
  • daily testing
  • self-isolating

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