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Engagement with protective behaviours in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: a series of cross-sectional surveys (the COVID-19 rapid survey of adherence to interventions and responses [CORSAIR] study)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Louise E. Smith, Henry W.W. Potts, Richard Amlȏt, Nicola T. Fear, Susan Michie, G. James Rubin

Original languageEnglish
Article number475
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Accepted/In press15 Feb 2022
Published10 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme. Surveys were commissioned and funded by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), with the authors providing advice on the question design and selection. LS, RA and GJR are supported by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between the UK Health Security Agency, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia. RA is also supported by the NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation, a partnership between the UK Health Security Agency and the University of Bristol. HWWP has received funding from Public Health England and NHS England. NTF is part funded by a grant from the UK Ministry of Defence. Surveys were commissioned and funded by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), with the authors providing advice on the question design and selection. DHSC saw drafts of this paper and were offered the chance to comment. DHSC had no role in the decision to publish. The authors retained full control over the paper’s content. Preliminary results were made available to DHSC and the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR, UK Health Security Agency, the Department of Health and Social Care or the UK Ministry of Defence. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).

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Abstract

Background: Behaviour is key to suppressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining behaviour change can be difficult. We investigated engagement with hand cleaning, reducing the number of outings, and wearing a face covering over the course of the pandemic. Methods: We used a series of 64 cross-sectional surveys between 10 February 2020 and 20 January 2022 (n ≈ 2000 per wave). Surveys investigated uptake of hand cleaning behaviours, out of home activity (England only, n ≈ 1700 per wave) and wearing a face covering (England only, restricted to those who reported going out shopping in the last week, n ≈ 1400 per wave). Results: Reported hand cleaning has been high throughout the pandemic period (85 to 90% of participants consistently reporting washing their hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water frequently or very frequently). Out of home activity has mirrored the easing and re-introduction of restrictive measures. Total number of outings were higher in the second national lockdown than in the first and third lockdowns. Wearing a face covering increased steadily between April to August 2020, plateauing until the end of measurement in May 2021, with approximately 80% of those who had been out shopping in the previous week reporting wearing a face covering frequently or very frequently. Conclusions: Engagement with protective behaviours increased at the start of the pandemic and has remained high since. The greatest variations in behaviour reflected changes to Government rules. Despite the duration of restrictions, people have continued to adopt personal protective behaviours that were intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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