PLoS One. 2022 Aug 8;17(8):e0267766. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267766. eCollection 2022.
BACKGROUND: Widespread use of at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests has been proposed as an important public health intervention to interrupt chains of transmission. Antigen tests may be preferred over PCR because they provide on-demand results for relatively low cost and can identify people when they are most likely to be infectious, particularly when used daily. Yet the extent to which a frequent antigen testing intervention will result in a positive public health impact for COVID-19 will depend on high acceptability and high adherence to such regimens.
METHODS: We conducted a mixed-methods study assessing acceptability of and adherence to a daily at-home mobile-app connected rapid antigen testing regimen among employees of a US-based media company. Acceptability was assessed across seven domains of the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability.
RESULTS: Among 31 study participants, acceptability of the daily testing intervention was generally high, with participants reporting high perceived effectiveness, intervention coherence, and self-efficacy; positive affective attitude; acceptable degree of burden and opportunity cost; and assessing the intervention as ethical. 71% reported a preference to test daily using an at-home antigen test than weekly employment-based PCR. Mean adherence to the 21-day testing regimen was 88% with 43% of participants achieving 100% adherence, 48% testing at least every other day, and 10% testing less than every other day.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite overall high acceptability and adherence, we identified three implementation challenges that must be addressed for frequent serial testing for COVID-19 to be implemented at scale and have a positive public health impact. First, users need guidance on how and when to adapt testing frequencies to different epidemiological conditions. Second, users and institutions need guidelines for how to safely store and share test results. Third, implementation of serial testing strategies must prioritize health equity and protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19.