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Falsification of home rapid antigen lateral flow tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ray, Devashish 
Dhami, Raenhha 
Lecouturier, Jan 
McGowan, Laura J 
Mukherjee, Aritra 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, lateral flow tests (LFTs) were used to regulate access to work, education, social activities, and travel. However, falsification of home LFT results was a concern. Falsification of test results during an ongoing pandemic is a sensitive issue. Consequently, respondents may not answer truthfully to questions about LFT falsification behaviours (FBs) when asked directly. Indirect questioning techniques such as the Extended Crosswise model (ECWM) can provide more reliable prevalence estimates of sensitive behaviors than direct questioning. Here we report the prevalence of LFT FBs in a representative sample in England (n = 1577) using direct questioning (DQ) and the ECWM. We examine the role of demographic and psychological variables as predictors of LFT FBs. We show that the prevalence estimates of the FBs in the DQ condition were significantly lower than the ECWM estimates, e.g., reporting a negative result without conducting a test: 5.7% DQ vs 18.4% ECWM. Moral norms, subjective norms, anticipated regret, perception of risk to self, and trust in government predicted some of the FBs. Indirect questioning techniques can help provide more realistic and higher quality data about compliance with behavioural regulations to government and public health agencies.



Humans, COVID-19, Pandemics, Surveys and Questionnaires, Educational Status, England

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
NIHR Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science (PR-PRU1217-20501)