COVID-19 support study: overview

Overview of research into the 10 day self-isolation period of cases, contacts, and international travellers during COVID-19.

This document is part of a collection

Scot Cen Social Research was commissioned by the Scottish Government to carry out a mixed mode study of adults asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect either because they tested positive for COVID-19, were in contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19 or recently arrived into Scotland from outside the UK.

The study aims to find out:

  • how much do people know about the self-isolation requirement and the support offer available to them
  • what do they think about what they’re being asked to do and how motivated are they to do it
  • what are they actually doing – in terms of adherence but also in terms of accessing support during isolation

The study consists of 3 waves of survey fieldwork (roughly across March, April and May) along with in depth follow-up interviews with some survey participants.

Those eligible to take part in the survey were defined as adults (16+) invited by Test and Protect to self-isolate because they tested positive for COVID-19; were in contact with someone who tested positive; or they had recently arrived into Scotland from outside the UK.  Eligible participants were invited to take part when they were on/close to day 8 of self-isolation.

How compliance is measured in this research

Compliance is measured in the survey in two ways:

By asking people directly how well they think they followed the guidelines (self-assessed compliance), and by asking people separately a series of questions designed to measure adherence to specific components of the isolation requirement (behavioural measure of compliance). Three of these measures were used to create a less subjective summary measure of compliance. A person’s responses to the questions on how soon they started isolating, whether they left accommodation during the isolation period, and the total number of days they reported isolating for were used to categorise them as fully, partially or non-compliant with the requirement to self-isolate.

It should be noted that, for the behavioural measure, a participant was categorised as compliant if they answered that they did not isolate straight away but the only activity they carried out before isolation was to get/send a COVID-19 test. Similarly, a participant was categorised as not having left home during the isolation period if they did report leaving but only to get/send a COVID-19 test.

To note, between waves 1 and 2 some additional quality assurance and clarification of the compliance measures was carried out to ensure getting or returning a Covid-19 test during isolation was considered compliant across all relevant measures in the summary behavioural measure.  This means some of the findings from wave 1 were updated for the wave 2 report.

Should you have any queries about this research, you can contact us at:

If you would like more information on self-isolation and the support offer, please see the relevant Test and Protect pages.


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