Background: COVID-19 self-testing (ST) is an innovative strategy with the potential to increase the access and uptake of testing and ultimately to limit the spread of the virus. To maximize the uptake and reach of this promising strategy and inform intervention development and scale up, research is needed to understand the acceptability of and willingness to use this tool. This is vital to ensure that Black/African Americans are reached by the Biden-Harris Administration's free national COVID-19 ST program. This study aimed to explore the acceptability and recommendations to promote and scale-up the uptake of COVID-19 ST among Black/African Americans.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional qualitative study using a semi-structured questionnaire to assess barriers and facilitators to the uptake of COVID-19 ST among a convenience sample of 28 self-identified Black/African Americans from schools, community centers, and faith-based institutions in Ohio and Maryland. Inductive content analysis was conducted to identify categories and subcategories related to acceptability and recommendations for implementing and scaling up COVID-19 ST in communities.
Results: Participants perceived COVID-19 self-testing as an acceptable tool that is beneficial to prevent transmission and address some of the barriers associated with health facility testing, such as transportation cost and human contact at the health facility. However, concerns were raised regarding the accurate use of the kits and costs. Recommendations for implementing and scaling up COVID-19 ST included engagement of community stakeholders to disseminate information about COVID-19 self-testing and creating culturally appropriate education tools to promote knowledge of and clear instructions about how to properly use COVID-19 ST kits. Based on these recommendations, the COVID-19 STEP (Self-Testing Education and Promotion) Project is being developed and will involve engaging community partners such as barbers, church leaders, and other community-based organizations to increase the uptake and use of free COVID-19 ST kits among Black/African Americans.
Conclusion: Findings showed that most participants considered COVID-19 ST valuable for encouraging COVID-19 testing. However, cost and accuracy concerns may pose barriers. Future work should consider implementing interventions that leverage the benefits of COVID-19 ST and further assess the extent to which these identified facilitators and barriers may influence COVID-19 ST uptake.
Keywords: Barriers; Black/African Americans; COVID-19 self-testing; Facilitators.
© 2022. The Author(s).