Citizen involvement in COVID-19 contact tracing with digital tools: a qualitative study to explore citizens' perspectives and needs
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National Coordination Centre for Communicable Disease Control, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A509
Background and Objectives: Contact tracing (CT) is a key strategy for controlling outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The scale of the COVID-19 pandemic often made it difficult for public health professionals (PHPs) to execute CT adequately. This may be compensated by more actively involving citizens in CT-tasks that are traditionally executed by PHPs (further referred to as ‘self-led’ CT). However, there is limited insight into citizens’ perspectives and needs regarding self-led CT. Therefore, we aimed to explore the perspectives and needs of Dutch citizens regarding self-led CT. We additionally explored if and how self-led CT may be facilitated with digital tools. Methods: In November 2021, we performed an exploratory qualitative study among Dutch citizens (N=27), in which we conducted online semi-structured interviews. Questions were based on constructs of the Reasoned Action Approach and the Health Belief Model. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis was conducted to identify citizens’ perspectives and needs regarding participation in self-led CT. Results: Most interviewees held a positive attitude towards self-led CT and the use of digital tools in this context. Seven main themes related to citizens’ perspectives and needs arose from the interviews: 1) ‘Perspective on self-led CT influenced by prior experiences with regular CT for COVID-19’, 2) ‘Anticipated responsibilities in regular CT shape interviewees’ perspectives on self-led CT’, 3) ‘Self-led CT may have various impacts on the execution of CT’, 4) ‘Perceived self-efficacy to participate in self-led CT’, 5) ‘Shame and social stigma may hamper participation in self-led CT’, 6) ‘Concerns about privacy and data security: a barrier for self-led CT’, and 7) ‘Interviewees’ anticipated needs for self-led CT in practice’. Conclusions: Citizens’ attitude towards participating in self-led CT may depend on various factors. Their perspectives and needs should be considered for the future implementation of self-led CT in practice
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