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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: Lucy Yardley is an NIHR Senior Investigator and her research programme is partly supported by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC)-West, NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Behavioural Science and
Evaluation, and the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).
Sarah Denford is supported by the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol in partnership with Public Health England.
Alex F Martin is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council Grant Number ES/J500057/1 and the NIHR HPRU in Emergency Preparedness and Response at King’s College London in partnership with Public Health England.
James Rubin supported by the NIHR HPRU in Emergency Preparedness and
Response at King’s College London in partnership with Public Health England.
This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Units (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between Public Health England, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia, and Behavioural Science and Evaluations, a partnership between Public Health England and the University of Bristol. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, Public Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care.
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Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s). 2021
Citation: Martin, A.F., Denford, S., Love, N. et al. Engagement with daily testing instead of self-isolating in contacts of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2. BMC Public Health 21, 1067 (2021).
- Daily testing