Publication - Research and analysis

COVID-19 support study: research findings from March 2021

Published: 22 Apr 2021

Interim findings only and based on Wave 1 online survey fieldwork carried out between Friday 19th March 2021 and Wednesday 31st March 2021.

Published:
22 Apr 2021
COVID-19 support study: research findings from March 2021

The findings included here are interim findings only and based on Wave 1 online survey fieldwork carried out between Friday 19th March 2021 and Wednesday 31st March 2021.

When interpreting the findings included in this report it should be borne in mind that this is an opt-in survey. Therefore findings are representative of survey participants and not all those asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect.

The results are based on one wave of data collection only so the sample size is relatively small and tests of statistical significance will only be carried out after data collection has been completed (July/August 2021).

Sample

12761 eligible adults in the Test and Protect system were invited to take part in the March survey wave of research. 908 participated fully or partially in the survey. International travellers were most likely to take part (14%) and contact cases were least likely to participate.

Knowledge of the 10 day self-isolation period

When asked how many days someone should self-isolate for if they tested positive for COVID, 8 in 10 people answered 10 days. A further 17% reported that self-isolation should be for 11 days or more (with 14 days being the most common answer among this group).

On the whole, knowledge of this requirement is high with just 2% reporting that the official guidance was to isolate for fewer than 10 days.

Self-assessed compliance

When asked directly how well they managed to comply with self-isolation, the vast majority (96%) of people think they complied “all of the time.” Just 4% of participants reported managing to comply “some of the time” and no-one reported not being able to comply with the requirement at all.

This very high level of self-assessed compliance is in line with findings from elsewhere in the UK. For example, data from the ONS COVID-19 Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey indicated that 86% of index cases (February fieldwork) and 90% of contact cases (March fieldwork) stated that they fully adhered to the requirement to self-isolate. In addition, a recent report from Public Health Wales stated that 78% of contact cases in Wales adhered by not leaving their home during their self-isolation period.

Behavioural measure of compliance

When based on the composite behavioural survey measure compliance is lower than people’s own assessment of how well they think they complied.

While 96% felt they fully complied, according to our derived measure of compliance full compliance was around two thirds (63%) and 36% appear to have partially complied.

Non-compliance is low for both measures of compliance. This may partially reflect the sample, which is opt in, and also social desirability among those who did respond.

Compliance by cases, contacts, and international travellers

When broken down by cases, contacts, and international travellers, compliance was as follows:

  • cases: 70% fully compliant; 29% partially compliant; 1% non-compliant
  • contacts: 60% fully compliant; 38% partially compliant; 2% non-compliant
  • international travellers: 54% fully compliant; 44% partially compliant; 1% non-compliant

Time spent in self-isolation

The majority of respondents were still isolating at the time of completing the survey (86%). A very small proportion isolated for less than 10 days or not at all (3%) while 11% had finished isolating but were able to isolate for the full 10 days.

Contact with individuals outside the household

The vast majority of those asked to self-isolate reported having no contact with anyone from outside their household during their self-isolation period (89%). 6% had contact with 1 other person; 3% had contact with 2 other people; and 2% with 3 or more contacts.

International travellers

Almost all international travellers that took part made arrangements for their self-isolation before arriving into Scotland, with just 1% reporting that hadn’t made arrangements in advance. Most (77%) booked a test kit to self-isolate at home, while one in five (21%) reported booking a managed isolation (quarantine) package.

International travellers were asked how much they agreed or disagreed that the Scottish Government information on international travel rules were easy to understand.  54% of international travellers strongly agreed or agreed it was easy to understand Scottish Government information on the rules around international travel during the pandemic. A further 33% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were easy to understand. 13% said they neither agreed not disagreed that they were easy to understand.

Support offer for index and contact cases

Participants were asked if they had been offered support with self-isolation in a range of ways.  These were: the option of the local authority contacting them; being offered support at the test centre; being provided with details of online support; being offered the National Assistance Helpline number; or none of these.  Participants could select as many as applied.

When asked if they had been offered support in any of the ways listed, just over half of index and contact cases said they were offered the option of having their contact details passed on to their Local Authority (53%).  26% said they had been offered details of online support and 22% had been offered the National Assistance Helpline number.  4% had been offered support at the test centre.

3 in 10 indicated that they were not offered any support in any of the ways listed when they were advised to self-isolate.

Of those index and contact cases that reported being offered the option of having their contact details passed on to their Local Authority, around 1 in 10 (12%) accepted this offer.

Eight percent reported that they contacted their Local Authority directly themselves.

Not taking up the local authority support offer

Those who did not accept the offer of local authority support were asked to choose from a list of reasons why they declined the offer.  Participants could select as many as applied.

The vast majority (9 in 10) indicated declining because they didn’t need any additional support. A sizeable proportion (15%) declined because they felt the information was accessible online.

6% didn’t accept the offer because they weren’t sure what kind of support was on offer and whether they needed it.

4% said there was an ‘Other’ reason and 1% that they wanted to contact their local authority directly.

Testing

Just over half (53%) of those that reported having been tested for COVID-19, said that their most recent test took place at a local drive through or walk-in site.

And of the remaining participants, the majority had used an NHS testing kit at home (29%). A further 16% were distributed across a range of other sites for testing (mobile testing; NHS premises; workplace; rapid testing site; home care/social care setting; or ‘Other’ location).  2% indicated that none of these options applied.

Participants that reported having had a COVID-19 test were also asked how long they waited for their most recent test result.

6 in 10 people received their result in under 24 hours. This was higher (closer to 8 in 10) (78%) for those who had their test at a drive through/walk in test site.

The most common length of time for NHS home-test kit users to wait for their result was between 24 and 48 hours (55%).

Mental health

Participants were asked whether they thought self-isolation had a positive or negative impact on their own mental health (or neither a positive nor negative impact).

Almost half (48%) said it impacted negatively on their mental health. ONS data indicated that 37% of index cases and 32% of contact cases reported a negative impact on their wellbeing and mental health. A sizeable proportion (42%) said it didn’t have any impact, positive or negative.

Participants were also asked what impact, if any, their own requirement to self-isolate had on the mental health of others in their household/accommodation. 45% reported that their own requirement to self-isolate had negatively impacted on the mental health of others in the home, with 47% noting it didn’t have any impact, positive or negative.

Self-isolation as a strategy

To assess the level of acceptance of self-isolation as a strategy, participants were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement that self-isolation is an effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Support is very high with over 90% agreeing/strongly agreeing that it is an effective way of stopping the spread of the virus.  2% disagreed or strongly disagreed with this, and 6% said they neither agreed not disagreed