Who is accessing community lateral flow device testing and why? Characteristics and motivations of individuals participating in COVID-19 community testing in two English local authority areas

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Abstract

Background: Antigen testing using lateral flow devices (LFDs) plays an important role in the management of the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2019 (COVID-19) by rapidly identifying individuals who are asymptomatically carrying high levels of the virus. By January 2021, LFD community testing sites were set up across English local authority areas to support the management and containment of regional COVID-19 cases, initially targeting essential workers unable to work from home during the national lockdown. This study aimed to examine the characteristics and motivations of individuals accessing community LFD testing across two local authority areas (LAAs) in the South West of England. Methods: Data were collected as part of a service evaluation from December 22nd 2020 until March 15th 2021 for two LAAs. Demographic and postcode data were collected from an online test appointment booking platform and the National Health Service testing service online system, with data accessed from Public Health England. An online survey was sent to individuals who made a testing appointment at an LAA1 site using the online booking platform, consisting of 12 questions to collect data on individual’s motivations for and experiences of testing. Results: Data were available for individuals who completed 12,516 tests in LAA1 and 12,327 tests in LAA2. Most individuals who engaged with testing were female, working age, white, and worked as early years or education staff, health and social care staff, and supermarket or food production staff. 1249 individuals completed the survey with 60% of respondents reported getting tested for work-related reasons. Individuals first heard about LFD testing through various channels including work, media, and word of mouth, and decided to get tested based on the ease and convenience of testing, workplace communications, and to identify asymptomatic cases to help stop the spread. Most tests were completed by individuals living in less deprived areas based on national deciles of deprivation. Conclusions: While national and local COVID-19 testing strategies have evolved, community and personal LFD testing remains a crucial pillar of the testing strategy. Future studies should collect quantitative and qualitative data from residents to most effectively shape testing offers based on the needs and preferences of their population.

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APA

Dalili, M. N., Long, J., Wadley, E., Sloan, J., Cross, A., Thomas, K. H., & Morgan, G. (2022). Who is accessing community lateral flow device testing and why? Characteristics and motivations of individuals participating in COVID-19 community testing in two English local authority areas. BMC Public Health, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-12986-4

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