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Publication Detail
Facilitators and barriers to compliance with COVID-19 guidelines: a structural topic modelling analysis of free-text data from 17,500 UK adults
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Wright L, Paul E, Steptoe A, Fancourt D
  • Publication date:
    06/01/2022
  • Journal:
    BMC Public Health
  • Volume:
    22
  • Issue:
    1
  • Article number:
    34
  • Status:
    Published
  • Country:
    England
  • PII:
    10.1186/s12889-021-12372-6
  • Language:
    English
  • Keywords:
    Adherence, COVID-19, Compliance, Free-text data, Non-pharmaceutical interventions, Structural topic modelling, Text mining
  • Notes:
    Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Abstract
BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government implemented a series of guidelines, rules, and restrictions to change citizens' behaviour to tackle the spread of the virus, such as the promotion of face masks and the imposition of lockdown stay-at-home orders. The success of such measures requires active co-operation on the part of citizens, but compliance was not complete. Detailed research is required on the factors that aided or hindered compliance with these measures. METHODS: To understand the facilitators and barriers to compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, we used structural topic modelling, a text mining technique, to extract themes from over 26,000 free-text survey responses from 17,500 UK adults, collected between 17 November and 23 December 2020. RESULTS: The main factors facilitating compliance were desires to reduce risk to oneself and one's family and friends and to, a lesser extent, the general public. Also of importance were a desire to return to normality, the availability of activities and technological means to contact family and friends, and the ability to work from home. Identified barriers were difficulties maintaining social distancing in public (due to the actions of other people or environmental constraints), the need to provide or receive support from family and friends, social isolation, missing loved ones, and mental health impacts, perceiving the risks as low, social pressure to not comply, and difficulties understanding and keep abreast of changing rules. Several of the barriers and facilitators raised were related to participant characteristics. Notably, women were more likely to discuss needing to provide or receive mental health support from friends and family. CONCLUSION: The results demonstrated an array of factors contributed to compliance with guidelines. Of particular policy importance, the results suggest that government communication that emphasizes the potential risks of the virus and provides simple, consistent guidance on how to reduce the spread of the virus would improve compliance with preventive behaviours as COVID-19 continues and for future pandemics.
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