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Public acceptability of a technology-mediated stool sample collection platform to inform community-based surveillance of infectious intestinal disease: a pilot study

Publication date: 

13 May 2022


BMC Public Health 22, 958 (2022)


Davies R, Iturriza-Gómara M, Glennon-Alty R, Elliot AJ, Vivancos R, Alvarez Nishio A, Cunliffe NA and Hungerford D

Publication type: 



Background In the UK approximately a quarter of the population experience infectious intestinal disease (IID) each year. However, only 2% present to primary care, preventing a true determination of community burden and pathogen aetiology. The aim of this pilot study was to gauge public acceptability of a technology-mediated platform for reporting episodes of IID and for providing stool samples. Methods This study employed a cross-sectional online survey design, targeting individuals 16 + years old within Liverpool City Region, UK. Information sought included demographics, comfortability of reporting illness and IID symptoms, willingness to provide stool, and favoured stool-provision method. Univariable logistic regression was used to examine associations between demographic variables and providing a stool sample. Odds ratios (OR) and associated 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were produced. Results A total of 174 eligible participants completed the survey, with 69% female. The sample was skewed towards younger populations, with 2.9% aged 65 + years. Nearly a third (29%) had a household income of less than £30,000 per annum and 70% had attained a degree or higher. The majority identified as White British (81%) and 11% identified as ethnicities typically grouped Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME). Three quarters of participants were either ‘Comfortable’ or ‘Very Comfortable’ with reporting illness (75%) and with answering symptom-related questions (79%); 78% reported that they would provide a stool sample. Upon univariable analysis, increasing age – being 55 + (OR 6.28, 95% CI 1.15–117.48), and lower income (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.02–6.60), was associated with willingness to provide a stool sample. Additionally, respondents identifying as BAME ethnicities and men may be less inclined to provide a stool sample. Conclusions This pilot study assessed the acceptability of technology-mediated platforms for reporting IID and provision of stool samples in the community. Respondents were biased towards younger, technologically inclined, more affluent and educated populations. Acceptability for reporting illness and providing a stool sample through technology-mediated platforms was high. While older populations were under-represented, they were more likely to agree to provide a stool sample. Qualitative research is required to better reach older and more deprived populations, and to understand potential age, gender and ethnic differences in compliance with stool sampling.