Facilitators and barriers to engagement with contact tracing during infectious disease outbreaks: A rapid review of the evidence Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    Until a vaccine is developed, a test, trace and isolate strategy is the most effective method of controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. Contact tracing and case isolation are common methods for controlling infectious disease outbreaks. However, the effectiveness of any contact tracing system rests on public engagement. Numerous factors may influence an individual's willingness to engage with a contact tracing system. Understanding these factors has become urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic.


    To identify facilitators and barriers to uptake of, and engagement with, contact tracing during infectious disease outbreaks.


    A rapid systematic review was conducted to identify papers based on primary research, written in English, and that assessed facilitators, barriers, and other factors associated with the uptake of, and engagement with, a contact tracing system.

    Principal findings

    Four themes were identified as facilitators to the uptake of, and engagement with, contact tracing: collective responsibility; personal benefit; co-production of contact tracing systems; and the perception of the system as efficient, rigorous and reliable. Five themes were identified as barriers to the uptake of, and engagement with, contact tracing: privacy concerns; mistrust and/or apprehension; unmet need for more information and support; fear of stigmatization; and mode-specific challenges.


    By focusing on the factors that have been identified, contact tracing services are more likely to get people to engage with them, identify more potentially ill contacts, and reduce transmission.

publication date

  • October 1, 2020