Research results –Student and staff views and experiences of TestEd during the Covid-19 pandemic

During TestEd’s operation, survey and interview research has been undertaken with those University staff and students who participated: June 2022

It is the first study to explore participant’s perceptions and experiences of TestEd as a novel saliva-based PCR asymptomatic testing programme for Covid-19. The research explored the acceptability of regular asymptomatic testing using this approach, and the barriers and facilitators to participation.

522 participants completed a pilot survey in April 2021, with a further 1,750 completing the main survey done in November 2021. 48 staff and students took part in the qualitative research. Participants were positive about their experience with TestEd with 94% describing it as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. Key to supporting participation included the provision of free testing conveniently provided across multiple sites on campus, ease of providing saliva samples compared to nasal swabs, perceived accuracy compared to lateral flow devices and reassurance of test availability while working or studying on campus. Barriers included concerns about privacy while providing a sample, difficulty in accessing and using IT systems; time to receiving results; and concerns about the extent to which the testing would reduce the risk of outbreaks on campus in the case of low levels of participation. There was little evidence that availability of testing on campus changed the behaviour of participants during a period when Covid-19 restrictions were in place. This research suggests that the acceptability of voluntary asymptomatic testing programmes depends on participant perceptions of test accuracy and overall participation levels, and on experiences of testing convenience and comfort. The findings from this study may be transferable to other asymptomatic testing programmes for Covid-19 or other viruses on university campuses or in other educational settings and workplaces.

For more information about the study please contact Professor Linda Bauld: