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Public adoption survey shows more than a third deleted COVID-19 contact tracing app

An online survey was carried out in the UK to investigate adoption and attitudes towards the NHS COVID-19 smartphone app.

The statistical analysis shows adoption rates, attitudes towards and trust in the app and compliance with self-isolation advice.

The study also highlighted differences for vulnerable populations including, older adults over 65 years of age and members of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.


The results showed that half of the 1,001 respondents had downloaded and kept the app, but more than a third either did not intend to download it or had deleted it.

More BAME respondents had deleted the app and significantly more older adults over 65 years old did not intend to download it.

Reasons for uptake included helping the NHS and other people, especially among older adults, although significantly fewer BAME agreed that they did so to help the NHS.

Reported compliance with received notifications to self-isolate was high, but lower than reported intended compliance without received notifications.

Respondents without the app reported significantly lower trust and more negative views towards the app and were less likely to report they understood how the app works.


Last month, the ‘pingdemic crisis’ created widespread staff shortages caused by workers self-isolating after being pinged by NHS test and trace.

Since then, the NHS COVID-19 app in England and Wales has been tweaked so that when someone without symptoms tests positive, the app will now look for contacts two days prior, rather than five.

Consequently, the number of alerts sent by the NHS COVID-19 app has fallen to its lowest number since the week ending 23 June.


The survey concluded with: “Whilst compliance of the 50% who have the app is fairly high, there are issues surrounding trust and understanding that hinder adoption and therefore the effectiveness of digital contact tracing, particularly amongst BAME communities. The study highlights that more needs to be done to improve adoption among groups who are more vulnerable to the effects of the virus to enhance uptake and acceptance of contact tracing apps.”

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