Experiences with COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing: A Qualitative Analysis

Experiences with COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing: A Qualitative Analysis

Published: Jun 01, 2023
Publisher: SSM - Qualitative Research in Health, vol. 3
Associated Project

A National Evaluation of Participation in and Equitable Coverage of COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Time frame: 2021 – 2022

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Nickolas DeLuca

Elise Caruso

Reena Gupta

Charlene Kemmerer

John E. Oeltmann

Melanie M. Taylor

Patrick K. Moonan

Phoebe G. Thorpe

Penny S. Loosier

CDC COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing Task Force

Case investigation and contact tracing (CI/CT) is a critical part of the public health response to COVID-19. Individuals’ experiences with CI/CT for COVID-19 varied based on geographic location, changes in knowledge and guidelines, access to testing and vaccination, as well as demographic characteristics including age, race, ethnicity, income, and political ideology. In this paper, we explore the experiences and behaviors of adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results, or who were exposed to a person with COVID-19, to understand their knowledge, motivations, and facilitators and barriers to their actions. We conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with 94 cases and 90 contacts from across the United States. We found that participants were concerned about infecting or exposing others, which motivated them to isolate or quarantine, notify contacts, and get tested. Although most cases and contacts were not contacted by CI/CT professionals, those who were reported a positive experience and received helpful information. Many cases and contacts reported seeking information from family, friends, health care providers, as well as television news and Internet sources. Although participants reported similar perspectives and experiences across demographic characteristics, some highlighted inequities in receiving COVID-19 information and resources.

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