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Knowledge of Self-Isolation Rules in the UK for Those Who Have Symptoms of COVID-19: A Repeated Cross-Sectional Survey Study

Publication date: 

20 Jan 2023


Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(3), 1952


Smith LE, West R, Potts HWW, Amlȏt R, Fear NT, Rubin GJ and Michie S

Publication type: 



Abstract Objectives: To investigate knowledge of self-isolation rules and factors associated with knowledge. Methods: Repeated cross-sectional online surveys (n ≈ 2000 UK adults) between 9 November 2020 and 16 February 2022 (78,573 responses from 51,881 participants). We computed a composite measure of knowledge of self-isolation rules and investigated associations between knowledge and survey wave, socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, UK nation, index of multiple deprivation), trust in government, and participants’ belief that they had received enough information about self-isolation. Results: In total, 87.9% (95% CI 87.7% to 88.1%, n = 67,288/76,562) of participants knew that if they had symptoms of COVID-19 they should ‘self-isolate’. However, only 62.8% (n = 48,058/76,562, 95% CI 62.4% to 63.1%) knew the main rules regarding what that meant. Younger people had less knowledge than older people, and men had less knowledge than women. Knowledge was lower in people living in England versus in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The pattern of association between knowledge and trust in government was unclear. Knowledge was lower in people living in a more deprived area and those who did not believe they had enough information about self-isolation. Knowledge was lower in December 2020 to January 2021, compared with before and after this period. Conclusions: Approximately 63% of UK adults between November 2020 and February 2022 appeared to know the main rules regarding self-isolation if symptomatic with COVID-19. Knowledge was lower in younger than older people, men than women, those living in England compared with Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and those living in more deprived areas.