May 2, 2022

African Americans views on COVID-19 testing, contact tracing

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study from Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee, finds that COVID-19 testing and contact tracing are beneficial among African Americans, but mistrust, COVID-19 stigma, location, and perceived costs are major barriers.

Of 62 study participants, the majority (69.4%) were female, had never been tested (62.9%), and had an associate degree or higher. None had participated in contact tracing.

Major factors negatively affecting participation were:

  • Lack of knowledge—most were unfamiliar in the role of contact tracing with COVID-19 prevention, and they described a lack of understanding related to the degree of pain, length of process, and rational for nasal swab testing.
  • Personal experiences—anxiety and fear were noted by those who were tested and those who observed others being tested, and none had personal experiences with contact tracing.
  • Perceived barriers—personal, family, or peer testing experiences made participants less likely to get tested; they were unaware of sanitation procedures and feared contracting COVID-19; and they had a general mistrust of the healthcare system and researchers.

Across all participants, testing was considered beneficial, and they perceived that testing free of cost made people more inclined to do it.

Strategies to increase engagement should include development of a multi-level communication plan, increased access, and better testing methods, the authors say.

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