Behavioural responses to SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing in England: REACT-2 study
Redd R., Cooper E., Atchison C., Pereira I., Hollings P., Cooper T., Millar C., Ashby D., Riley S., Darzi A., Barclay W., Cooke GS., Elliott P., Donnelly CA., Ward H.
Background: This study assesses the behavioural responses to SARS-CoV-2 antibody test results as part of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-2 (REACT-2) research programme, a large community-based surveillance study of antibody prevalence in England. Methods: A follow-up survey was conducted six weeks after the SARS-CoV-2 antibody test. The follow-up survey included 4500 people with a positive result and 4039 with a negative result. Reported changes in behaviour were assessed using difference-in-differences models. A nested interview study was conducted with 40 people to explore how they thought through their behavioural decisions. Results: While respondents reduced their protective behaviours over the six weeks, we did not find evidence that positive test results changed participant behaviour trajectories in relation to the number of contacts the respondents had, for leaving the house to go to work, or for leaving the house to socialise in a personal place. The qualitative findings supported these results. Most people did not think that they had changed their behaviours because of their test results, however they did allude to some changes in their attitudes and perceptions around risk, susceptibility, and potential severity of symptoms. Conclusions: We found limited evidence that knowing your antibody status leads to behaviour change in the context of a research study. While this finding should not be generalised to widespread self-testing in other contexts, it is reassuring given the importance of large prevalence studies, and the practicalities of doing these at scale using self-testing with lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA).