Posted: 2021-09-11 19:00:00
Background: Despite their central role in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and previous infectious disease outbreaks, factors influencing the acceptability and implementation of social distancing measures are poorly understood. This systematic review aims to identify such factors drawing on qualitative literature. Methods: A systematic search was carried out in eleven databases. Papers were included in the review if they reported on qualitative studies of factors influencing the implementation of social distancing measures in potentially epidemic infectious diseases. An adapted meta-ethnographical approach was used for synthesis. Review findings were assessed for strength and reliability using GRADE-CERQual. Results: Twenty-nine papers were included from the systematic search that yielded 5620 results, and supplementary methods. The review identifies two broad categories of barriers to social distancing measures: individual- or community-level psychosocial phenomena, and shortcomings in governmental action or communication. Based on this, 25 themes are identified that can be addressed to improve the implementation of social distancing. Conclusion: Among other findings, the review identifies the need for good communication as well as the need for authorities to provide comprehensive support as two key opportunities to increase acceptability and adherence. Further important enablers of adherence are adequate preparedness and appropriate legislation, the presence of community involvement, solidarity within communities and trust in governments and authorities.
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