May 19, 2021

Consumer views on use of digital data for COVID-19 control

Editor's Note

This survey study of US adults found that many were averse to their information being used on digital platforms to mitigate COVID-19 transmission.

Of 6,284 adults surveyed, 3,547 responded, for a completion rate of 56%.

Approval was generally low (28% to 43%) for use of consumer digital data for:

  • case identification
  • digital contact tracing
  • policy setting
  • enforcing quarantines.

Political ideology and race/ethnicity were linked to approval for scenarios in which digital data were used—with higher approval from liberals and racial/ethnic groups. Local COVID-19 incidence and family experience with COVID-19 were not associated with approval.

The findings of this study suggest that in this current pandemic and in future pandemics, public health departments should use multiple strategies to gain public trust and accelerate adoption of tools such as digital contract tracing apps, the authors say.

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