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Perception, behaviour and communication in relation to rapid antigen detection tests - a narrative review of evidence

November 9, 2021
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Rapid Antigen Detection Tests for SARS-CoV-2 (hereafter RADT) are potentially a valuable tool in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but their usefulness depends on the perceptions, decisions and behaviours of those taking RADT. Successful implementation of RADT programmes requires people to take RADT and, importantly, to do so in line with public health advice. This implies a need for good general understanding of the situations in which RADT should and should not be taken. It also implies a need for people to understand what a test result means for them, since their interpretation of a test result may influence their subsequent protective behaviours. Clearly, if RADT are inappropriately used or the results are misinterpreted, this may result in an undesirable change in protective behaviours. In light of these issues, this paper presents a rapid narrative review of relevant evidence from behavioural science.

The paper addresses the following research questions:

RQ1: Do people (intend to) use RADTs in line with public health advice?

RQ2: Do people accurately interpret the meaning of test results?

RQ3: Do people adjust their behaviour following negative test results?

If problems are detected at any of these stages, solutions need to be designed to tackle them and to increase the chances of successful implementation of RADT screening programmes. Therefore, the last research question in this review is dedicated to solutions:

RQ4: Can people’s judgements and (intended) behaviours be improved by more effective communication?