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Testing for COVID-19 regulates behavior in the general population: A qualitative study of experiences of awaiting test result for COVID-19

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AIM: This study aimed to explore experiences of awaiting a test result for COVID-19 among individuals from the general population.

METHODS: Fifteen participants were recruited from COVID-19 testing tents in the Capital Region of Denmark in March and April 2020. A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach inspired by Ricoeur's theory of interpretation was used.

RESULTS: The analysis revealed five themes. (1) The participants' experiences of awaiting a COVID-19 test result illuminated concerns related to infecting others rather than their own health. Experiences of guilt for not taking all possible precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 were described and thoughts of potentially having exposed others bothered the participants. (2) The test result would guide their precautions and therefore regulate behaviour at home and in society. (3) Even though the participants did not take all possible precautions they made some changes in their everyday lives. (4) Leaving the individual with the responsibility for taking precautions based on their subjective experiences created feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. (5) Being met by health professionals was an experience that meant for the particpants that behaviour towards limiting the infection became very clear. The seriousness experienced around the test situation facilitated this attitude and behaviour in the participants. Conclusion: This study illuminated how testing for COVID-19 regulates behavior in the general population. The testing was both important for the individual's cautious behavior towards other people, work and in getting around in society but also a way to regulate behavior from a societal perspective to quicken suppression and avoid transmission of COVID-19.

BogserieScandinavian Journal of Public Health. Supplement
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)797-803
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2021

ID: 65561717