Devashish Ray, Lauren McGowan, Jan Lecouturier, Raenhha Dhami, Mike Kelly, and Falko Sniehotta
March 2022 – December 2022
We are conducting this research to try to understand how people reported their test results from at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen lateral flow device kits. Lateral flow tests (LFTs) are sufficiently specific and sensitive for detection of the COVID-19 virus antigen making them useful in identifying individuals who are most likely to transmit the virus. LFTs are easy-to-use for self-testing at home and can provide results within 15 minutes on a handheld device. Results of these tests need to be reported to the authorities within 24 hours every time a test is done. Between April 2021 and March 2022, everyone in the UK was provided access to free LFTs for regular testing.
As home testing with LFTs became part of everyday life, there were reports of registration of false reports in the UK, and from other countries. Analyses of UK social media postings suggested some falsification of home test results to gain entry to sports and entertainment venues. The public health risk related to individuals falsifying at-home test results is currently not well understood. An understanding of the extent of falsification of home-based test results and how and why these practices occur can be used to inform policies to improve the development of novel testing strategies and optimised products for mass testing. This research investigates the question: how many people do or would falsify home test results? Secondary questions address psychological and demographic associations with falsification behaviour, to inform future modelling and interventions.
Design and methods
We will study the prevalence of falsification of results of COVID-19 antigen LFTs in a representative sample of the adult population in England. A two-stage survey will be conducted using online self-completion questionnaires. In self-completed surveys, socially desirable responding compromises the validity of prevalence estimates for sensitive personal behaviours. Indirect questioning techniques such as the extended crosswise model (ECWM) attempt to control for the influence of social desirability bias. We will compare the performance of two differing questioning formats (direct questions versus ECWM) for estimating the prevalence of self-reported falsification of test results. We will use vignettes to estimate prevalence of intentions to falsify test results, and explore associations between attitudes, personal characteristics, and intentions to falsify self-reported test results.
References and further reading
Mieth, M. M. Mayer, A. Hoffmann, A. Buchner and R. Bell (2021). Do they really wash their hands? Prevalence estimates for personal hygiene behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic based on indirect questions. BMC Public Health Vol. 21 (1), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-10109-5
Meisters, A. Hoffmann and J. Musch (2020). Controlling social desirability bias: An experimental investigation of the extended crosswise model. PloS One Vol. 15 (12) Pages e0243384 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0243384