Infection control in the home: A qualitative study exploring perceptions and experiences of adhering to protective behaviours in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lauren Towler, Kate Morton, Ben Ainsworth, Julia Groot, Sascha Miller, James Denison-Day, Cathy Rice, Jennifer Bostock, Merlin Willcox, Paul Little, Lucy Yardley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Objectives We sought to explore people's experiences and perceptions of implementing infection control behaviours in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic, guided by an online behavioural intervention. Design Inductive qualitative study. Setting UK public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants Thirteen people took part in telephone interviews, and 124 completed a qualitative open-text survey. All were recruited from the public. Most survey participants were aged over 60 years, while interview participants were more distributed in age. Most reported being at increased risk from COVID-19, and were white British. Intervention Online behavioural intervention to support infection control behaviours in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collection Telephone think-aloud interviews and qualitative survey data. Data analysis The think-aloud interview data and qualitative survey data were analysed independently using inductive thematic analysis. The findings were subsequently triangulated. Results Thematic analysis of the telephone interviews generated seven themes: perceived risk; belief in the effectiveness of protective behaviours; acceptability of distancing and isolation; having capacity to perform the behaviours; habit forming reduces effort; having the confidence to perform the behaviours; and social norms affect motivation to engage in the behaviours. The themes identified from the survey data mapped well onto the interview analysis. Isolating and social distancing at home were less acceptable than cleaning and handwashing, influenced by the need for intimacy with household members. This was especially true in the absence of symptoms and when perceived risk was low. People felt more empowered when they understood that even small changes, such as spending some time apart, were worthwhile to reduce exposure and lessen viral load. Conclusions The current study provided valuable insight into the acceptability and feasibility of protective behaviours, and how public health guidance could be incorporated into a behaviour change intervention for the public during a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere056161
JournalBMJ Open
Volume11
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • covid-19
  • infection control
  • public health
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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