The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Improving infection control behavior patterns in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study of the web-based behavioral intervention ‘Germ Defence’

Improving infection control behavior patterns in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study of the web-based behavioral intervention ‘Germ Defence’
Improving infection control behavior patterns in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study of the web-based behavioral intervention ‘Germ Defence’
Background: to control the COVID-19 pandemic, people should adopt protective behaviors at home (self-isolation, social distancing, putting shopping and packages aside, wearing face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting, and handwashing). There is currently limited support to help individuals conduct these behaviors.

Objective: this study aims to report current household infection control behaviors in the United Kingdom and examine how they might be improved.

Methods: this was a pragmatic cross-sectional observational study of anonymous participant data from Germ Defence between May 6-24, 2020. Germ Defence is an open-access fully automated website providing behavioral advice for infection control within households. A total of 28,285 users sought advice from four website pathways based on household status (advice to protect themselves generally, to protect others if the user was showing symptoms, to protect themselves if household members were showing symptoms, and to protect a household member who is at high risk). Users reported current infection control behaviors within the home and intentions to change these behaviors.

Results: current behaviors varied across all infection control measures but were between sometimes (face covering: mean 1.61, SD 1.19; social distancing: mean 2.40, SD 1.22; isolating: mean 2.78, SD 1.29; putting packages and shopping aside: mean 2.75, SD 1.55) and quite often (cleaning and disinfecting: mean 3.17, SD 1.18), except for handwashing (very often: mean 4.00, SD 1.03). Behaviors were similar regardless of the website pathway used. After using Germ Defence, users recorded intentions to improve infection control behavior across all website pathways and for all behaviors (overall average infection control score mean difference 0.30, 95% CI 0.29-0.31).

Conclusions: self-reported infection control behaviors other than handwashing are lower than is optimal for infection prevention, although handwashing is much higher. Advice using behavior change techniques in Germ Defence led to intentions to improve these behaviors. Promoting Germ Defence within national and local public health and primary care guidance could reduce COVID-19 transmission.
Behavior change, COVID-19, Digital health, Digital medicine, Infection control, Infectious disease, Novel coronavirus, Protection
1438-8871
Ainsworth, Ben
b02d78c3-aa8b-462d-a534-31f1bf164f81
Miller, Sascha
448d724f-ce7d-4e8e-9ff1-e0255e995c77
Denison-Day, James
49c0d012-eadc-44eb-b06c-da7714be145a
Stuart, Beth
626862fc-892b-4f6d-9cbb-7a8d7172b209
Groot, Julia
cc29dc97-a3aa-4036-a46a-a913828f2962
Rice, Cathy
cfb0acc9-2bc3-4279-89bf-1074384f00de
Bostock, Jennifer
209fe50a-0710-4023-aa51-5582b8b0eca5
Hu, Xiaoyang
65904b24-3775-4b14-9532-eb703a056655
Morton, Katherine
4339a030-fff1-4d2e-86d3-1bc10b92de4c
Towler, Lauren
ebb4fb4e-703f-4e52-a9dc-53e72ca68e8f
Moore, Michael
1be81dad-7120-45f0-bbed-f3b0cc0cfe99
Willcox, Merlin
dad5b622-9ac2-417d-9b2e-aad41b64ffea
Chadborn, Tim
fb42e42c-cac4-46bc-8f4f-07844add4d93
Gold, Natalie
2df992a8-1536-449f-89f0-72c5ce2c1250
Amlôt, Richard
d93f5263-ea24-4b12-b505-f51694220b8e
Little, Paul
1bf2d1f7-200c-47a5-ab16-fe5a8756a777
Yardley, Lucy
64be42c4-511d-484d-abaa-f8813452a22e
Ainsworth, Ben
b02d78c3-aa8b-462d-a534-31f1bf164f81
Miller, Sascha
448d724f-ce7d-4e8e-9ff1-e0255e995c77
Denison-Day, James
49c0d012-eadc-44eb-b06c-da7714be145a
Stuart, Beth
626862fc-892b-4f6d-9cbb-7a8d7172b209
Groot, Julia
cc29dc97-a3aa-4036-a46a-a913828f2962
Rice, Cathy
cfb0acc9-2bc3-4279-89bf-1074384f00de
Bostock, Jennifer
209fe50a-0710-4023-aa51-5582b8b0eca5
Hu, Xiaoyang
65904b24-3775-4b14-9532-eb703a056655
Morton, Katherine
4339a030-fff1-4d2e-86d3-1bc10b92de4c
Towler, Lauren
ebb4fb4e-703f-4e52-a9dc-53e72ca68e8f
Moore, Michael
1be81dad-7120-45f0-bbed-f3b0cc0cfe99
Willcox, Merlin
dad5b622-9ac2-417d-9b2e-aad41b64ffea
Chadborn, Tim
fb42e42c-cac4-46bc-8f4f-07844add4d93
Gold, Natalie
2df992a8-1536-449f-89f0-72c5ce2c1250
Amlôt, Richard
d93f5263-ea24-4b12-b505-f51694220b8e
Little, Paul
1bf2d1f7-200c-47a5-ab16-fe5a8756a777
Yardley, Lucy
64be42c4-511d-484d-abaa-f8813452a22e

Ainsworth, Ben, Miller, Sascha, Denison-Day, James, Stuart, Beth, Groot, Julia, Rice, Cathy, Bostock, Jennifer, Hu, Xiaoyang, Morton, Katherine, Towler, Lauren, Moore, Michael, Willcox, Merlin, Chadborn, Tim, Gold, Natalie, Amlôt, Richard, Little, Paul and Yardley, Lucy (2021) Improving infection control behavior patterns in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study of the web-based behavioral intervention ‘Germ Defence’. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23 (2), [e22197]. (doi:10.2196/22197).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: to control the COVID-19 pandemic, people should adopt protective behaviors at home (self-isolation, social distancing, putting shopping and packages aside, wearing face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting, and handwashing). There is currently limited support to help individuals conduct these behaviors.

Objective: this study aims to report current household infection control behaviors in the United Kingdom and examine how they might be improved.

Methods: this was a pragmatic cross-sectional observational study of anonymous participant data from Germ Defence between May 6-24, 2020. Germ Defence is an open-access fully automated website providing behavioral advice for infection control within households. A total of 28,285 users sought advice from four website pathways based on household status (advice to protect themselves generally, to protect others if the user was showing symptoms, to protect themselves if household members were showing symptoms, and to protect a household member who is at high risk). Users reported current infection control behaviors within the home and intentions to change these behaviors.

Results: current behaviors varied across all infection control measures but were between sometimes (face covering: mean 1.61, SD 1.19; social distancing: mean 2.40, SD 1.22; isolating: mean 2.78, SD 1.29; putting packages and shopping aside: mean 2.75, SD 1.55) and quite often (cleaning and disinfecting: mean 3.17, SD 1.18), except for handwashing (very often: mean 4.00, SD 1.03). Behaviors were similar regardless of the website pathway used. After using Germ Defence, users recorded intentions to improve infection control behavior across all website pathways and for all behaviors (overall average infection control score mean difference 0.30, 95% CI 0.29-0.31).

Conclusions: self-reported infection control behaviors other than handwashing are lower than is optimal for infection prevention, although handwashing is much higher. Advice using behavior change techniques in Germ Defence led to intentions to improve these behaviors. Promoting Germ Defence within national and local public health and primary care guidance could reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Text
PDF - Version of Record
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (254kB)
Text
preprint-22197-accepted - Other
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (800kB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 21 January 2021
e-pub ahead of print date: 25 February 2021
Published date: 25 February 2021
Additional Information: Publisher Copyright: © Ben Ainsworth, Sascha Miller, James Denison-Day, Beth Stuart, Julia Groot, Cathy Rice, Jennifer Bostock, Xiao-Yang Hu, Katherine Morton, Lauren Towler, Michael Moore, Merlin Willcox, Tim Chadborn, Natalie Gold, Richard Amlôt, Paul Little, Lucy Yardley. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keywords: Behavior change, COVID-19, Digital health, Digital medicine, Infection control, Infectious disease, Novel coronavirus, Protection

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451875
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451875
ISSN: 1438-8871
PURE UUID: 64c1ef2d-dd2e-4da7-8524-a0e682760539
ORCID for Ben Ainsworth: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5098-1092
ORCID for Beth Stuart: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5432-7437
ORCID for Xiaoyang Hu: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3143-7999
ORCID for Michael Moore: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5127-4509
ORCID for Merlin Willcox: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5227-3444
ORCID for Lucy Yardley: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3853-883X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 02 Nov 2021 17:42
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 02:18

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Ben Ainsworth ORCID iD
Author: Sascha Miller
Author: Beth Stuart ORCID iD
Author: Julia Groot
Author: Cathy Rice
Author: Jennifer Bostock
Author: Xiaoyang Hu ORCID iD
Author: Katherine Morton
Author: Lauren Towler
Author: Michael Moore ORCID iD
Author: Merlin Willcox ORCID iD
Author: Tim Chadborn
Author: Natalie Gold
Author: Richard Amlôt
Author: Paul Little
Author: Lucy Yardley ORCID iD

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×