People’s behaviour will determine the success or failure of the coronavirus contact tracing app, psychologists have warned.
The NHS Covid-19 symptoms tracking app was due to be rolled out in mid-May following a trial on the Isle of Wight as an aid towards the Government’s track and trace effort, but it is now expected in the “coming weeks”.
According to experts at the British Psychological Society (BPS), behavioural science should be integrated within the app itself, as well as in any communications associated with it if the app is to be fit for purpose.
The body said it has identified at least four inter-related behaviours resting on the public to carry out.
Madelynne Arden, professor of health psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, said these are: to download the app, carry a functional phone at all times, identify they have Covid-19 symptoms and report them on the app, and act on messages from the app to self-isolate.
“Reducing the spread of Covid-19 is paramount and the Government’s track and trace app is a key tool in its strategy,” she said.
“However, it is people’s behaviour that will determine if it is a success.”
She added that for people to perform these behaviours, they must “have the capability, opportunity and motivation to do so”.
Dr Angel Chater, health psychologist and chair of the BPS behavioural science and disease prevention taskforce, said: “Understanding the drivers and barriers behind the behaviours for different groups is essential to both the uptake and engagement of the app.
“Messaging that encourages people to use it should draw from behavioural science, highlighting clear and achievable behavioural strategies and outcomes.”
On Thursday, business minister Nadhim Zahawi told Question Time the app should be in place by the end of June.
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