Psychological and psychosocial determinants of COVID health related behaviours (COHeRe): an evidence and gap map

Jennifer Hanratty, Ciara Keenan, Sean R. O'Connor, Rachel Leonard, Yuan Chi, Janet Ferguson, Ariana Axiaq, Sarah Miller, Declan Bradley, Martin Dempster*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has resulted in illness, deaths and societal disruption on a global scale. Societies have implemented various control measures to reduce transmission of the virus and mitigate its impact. Individual behavioural changes are crucial to the successful implementation of these measures. Common recommended measures to limit risk of infection include frequent handwashing, reducing the frequency of social interactions and the use of face coverings. It is important to identify those factors that can predict the uptake and maintenance of these protective behaviours.

We aimed to identify and map the existing evidence (published and unpublished) on psychological and psychosocial factors that determine uptake and adherence to behaviours aimed at reducing the risk of infection or transmission of COVID-19.

Search methods
Our extensive search included electronic databases (n = 12), web searches, conference proceedings, government reports, other repositories including both published peer reviewed, pre-prints and grey literature. The search strategy was built around three concepts of interest including (1) context (terms relating to COVID-19), (2) behaviours of interest and 3) terms related to psychological and psychosocial determinants of COVID Health-Related Behaviours and adherence or compliance with recommended behaviours, to capture both malleable and non-malleable determinants (i.e. determinants that could be changed and those that could not).

Selection criteria
This Evidence and Gap Map (EGM) includes all types of studies examining determinants of common recommended behaviours aimed at mitigating human-to-human spread of COVID-19. All potential malleable and non-malleable determinants of one or more behaviours are included in the map. As part of the mapping process, categories are used to group determinants. The mapping categorigies were based on a previous rapid review by Hanratty 2021. These include: 'behaviour', 'cognition', 'demographics', 'disease', 'emotions', 'health status', 'information', 'intervention', and 'knowledge'. Those not suitable for categorisation in any of these groups are included in the map as 'other' determinants.

Data collection and analysis
Results were imported to a bibliographic reference manager where duplications of identical studies gathered from multiple sources were removed. Data extraction procedures were managed in EPPI-Reviewer software. Information on study type, population, behaviours measured and determinants measured were extracted. We appraised the methodological quality of systematic reviews with AMSTAR‐2. We did not appraise the quality of primary studies in this map.

Main results
As of 1st June 2022 the EGM includes 1034 records reporting on 860 cross-sectional, 68 longitudinal, 78 qualitative, 25 reviews, 62 interventional, and 39 other studies (e.g., mixed-methods approaches). The map includes studies that measured social distancing (n=487), masks and face coverings (n=382), handwashing (n=308), physical distancing (n=177), isolation/quarantine (n=157), respiratory hygiene/etiquette (n=75), cleaning surfaces (n=59), and avoiding touching the T-zone (n=48). There were 333 studies that assessed composite measures of two or more behaviours. The largest cluster of determinants was 'demographics' (n=730 studies), followed by 'cognition' (n=496 studies) and determinants categorised as 'other' (n=447). These included factors such as 'beliefs', 'culture' and 'access to resources'. Less evidence is available for some determinants such as 'interventions' (n=99 studies), 'information' (n=101 studies), and 'behaviour' (149 studies).

Authors' conclusions
This EGM provides a valuable resource for researchers, policy-makers and the public to access the available evidence on the determinants of various COVID-19 health related behaviours. The map can also be used to help guide research commissioning, by evidence synthesis teams and evidence intermediaries to inform policy during the ongoing pandemic and potential future outbreaks of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections. Evidence included in the map will be explored further through a series of systematic reviews examining the strength of the associations between malleable determinants and the uptake and maintenance of individual protective behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1336
JournalCampbell Systematic Reviews
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2023


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