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Intention to adhere to test, trace, and isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic (the COVID-19 Rapid Survey of Adherence to Interventions and Responses study)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Louise Smith, Henry Potts, Richard Amlot, Nicola Fear, Susan Michie, James Rubin

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Early online date30 Nov 2021
Accepted/In press20 Nov 2021
E-pub ahead of print30 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme. 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. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR, the UK Health Security Agency, the Department of Health and Social Care or the 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. Preliminary results were made available to DHSC and the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. British Journal of Health Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.

King's Authors


(1) To investigate factors associated with intention to self-isolate, request a test, and share details of close contacts when required. (2) To determine whether associations were stronger during periods when less stringent national COVID-19 restrictions were in place.

Series of cross-sectional nationally representative surveys. We selected survey waves where different national restrictions were in place in England (first lockdown, summer release, second lockdown, third lockdown).

We investigated whether psychological factors and increased out-of-home activity in the last week were associated with intention to self-isolate and request a test if you were to develop COVID-19 symptoms, and intention to share details of contacts if you were to test positive. We also investigated whether the strength of associations differed by timepoint in the pandemic.

Intention to self-isolate, request a test and share details of contacts were associated with greater perceived risk of COVID-19 to people in the United Kingdom, knowing that COVID-19 transmission can be asymptomatic, and agreeing that personal behaviour has an impact on COVID-19 transmission. There were few differences in strength of associations by timepoint suggesting these effects are broadly stable over time.

Psychological factors were associated with intention to adhere to key components of the contact tracing system; there was no evidence for an association with increased out-of-home activity. Messages that increase knowledge that COVID-19 can be transmitted even if someone does not have symptoms and that an individual’s actions can contribute to the spread of the virus may promote engagement with the test, trace, and isolate system.

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