Public opinion of the Irish “COVID Tracker” digital contact tracing App: A national survey
journal contributionposted on 2022-08-16, 10:46 authored by Michael E. O’Callaghan, Manzar Abbas, JIM BUCKLEYJIM BUCKLEY, BRIAN FITZGERALDBRIAN FITZGERALD, KEVIN JOHNSONKEVIN JOHNSON, John Laffey, Bairbre McNicholas, BASHAR NUSEIBEHBASHAR NUSEIBEH, Derek O’Keeffe, SARAH BEECHAM, ABDUL RAZZAQ, Kaavya Rekanar, ITA RICHARDSONITA RICHARDSON, Andrew Simpkin, James O'Connell, CRISTIANO STORNICRISTIANO STORNI, Damyanka Tsvyatkova, Jane Walsh, THOMAS WELSHTHOMAS WELSH, LIAM GLYNNLIAM GLYNN
Objective: This study aims to gather public opinion on the Irish “COVID Tracker” digital contact tracing (DCT) App, with particular focus on App usage, usability, usefulness, technological issues encountered, and potential changes to the App. Methods: A 35-item online questionnaire was deployed for 10 days in October 2020, 3 months after the launch of the Irish DCT App. Results: A total of 2889 completed responses were recorded, with 2553 (88%) respondents currently using the App. Although four in five users felt the App is easy to download, is easy to use and looks professional, 615 users (22%) felt it had slowed down their phone, and 757 (28%) felt it had a negative effect on battery life. Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported the App’s main function is to aid contact tracing. Inclusion of national COVID-19 trends is a useful ancillary function according to 87% of respondents, and there was an appetite for more granular local data. Overall, 1265 (44%) respondents believed the App is helping the national effort, while 1089 (38%) were unsure. Conclusions: DCT Apps may potentially augment traditional contact tracing methods. Despite some reports of negative effects on phone performance, just 7% of users who have tried the App have deleted it. Ancillary functionality, such as up-to-date regional COVID-19, may encourage DCT App use. This study describes general positivity toward the Irish COVID Tracker App among users but also highlights the need for transparency on effectiveness of App-enabled contact tracing and for study of non-users to better establish barriers to use.