Public perceptions of physical interventions for reducing transmission of respiratory infection

Added April 21, 2020

Citation: Teasdale E, Santer M, Geraghty AWA, Little P, Yardley L. Public perceptions of non-pharmaceutical interventions for reducing transmission of respiratory infection: systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies. BMC Public Health 2014; 14: 589

What is this? Physical interventions (such as isolation or social-distancing, personal protective measures including respiratory and hand hygiene, and masks) are being used to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is important to understand public perceptions about these interventions.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for qualitative research on public perceptions of physical interventions for reducing transmission of respiratory infection. They did not restrict their search by date or language of publication and did the search in February 2013. They included 16 studies (1022 participants), from Australia (1 study), Bangladesh (1), Canada (1), Hong Kong (1), Spain (1), the Netherlands (1), New Zealand (1), UK (6) and USA (4),

What was found: People viewed hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene as familiar and socially responsible actions to take.

People were ambivalent about adopting isolation and personal distancing behaviours in some contexts, because of their perceived adverse impact and potential to attract social stigma.

Common perceived barriers included beliefs about infection transmission, personal vulnerability to respiratory infection and concerns about self-diagnosis in emerging respiratory infections.

What’s uncertain: Most of the studies in the review are from high-income countries, so public perceptions of physical interventions to reduce the transmission of respiratory infections in low- and middle-income countries are uncertain.


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