Exploring the determinants of human behaviours in Social Distancing and COVID-19 Testing decisions: A Scoping Review

  • Deval Kotadia
Keywords: Social distancing, Behavioural determinants, Adherence, Testing for Covid-19, Covid-19, Barriers, Facilitators, Test and trace


Background: The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020 and has continued to be a public health disaster worldwide ever since. Several public health and social measures are recommended and have been taken up by governments to prevent the spread of infection. These measures include social distancing, hand washing, avoiding touching face and nose, not going outside, getting tested for the virus and self-isolation if infected or in contact with the disease. These measures are known as ‘behavioural vaccines’ and are viewed as critical in mitigating the spread of infection, however, in order for them to work it requires consistent behaviour among the population. The aim of the scoping review was to explore the behavioural determinants of social distancing and testing among the population of United Kingdom (UK), to assess adherence to these behaviours and factors affecting adherence.

Methods: A scoping review of all types of articles published from April 2020 to April 2021 was done utilising different database searches. Articles were scanned by relevance from titles and abstract and then full text was reviewed on the final included articles (n=14). A five-stage methodological framework was followed for reviewing, charting and narrative synthesis of the data.

Results: Fourteen articles were included in this study for review. Factors affecting the adherence to behaviour for social distancing and testing was further reviewed. The scoping review highlighted that as the severity of the disease increased, adherence to behaviour increased. The older population was seen to follow adherence more than the younger generation. Due to various circumstantial issues such as staying alone, it was not possible for many people to adhere to the social distancing and testing policy.

Conclusions: These findings throw light on the important part played by behavioural responses of the community. There are certain barriers and facilitators allied to social distancing measures and test and trace. Recommendations are made to convey clear messages that are timely and context specific.