COVID-19 contact-tracing apps: predicted uptake in the Netherlands based on a discrete choice experiment

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Smartphone-based contact tracing apps can contribute to reducing COVID-19 transmission rates and thereby support countries emerging from lockdowns as restrictions are gradually eased.

The primary objective of our study is to determine the potential uptake of a contact tracing app in the Dutch population, depending on the characteristics of the app.

A discrete choice experiment was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 900 Dutch respondents. Simulated maximum likelihood methods were used to estimate population average and individual-level preferences using a mixed logit model specification. Individual-level uptake probabilities were calculated based on the individual-level preference estimates and subsequently aggregated into the sample as well as subgroup-specific contact tracing app adoption rates.

The predicted app adoption rates ranged from 59.3% to 65.7% for the worst and best possible contact tracing app, respectively. The most realistic contact tracing app had a predicted adoption of 64.1%. The predicted adoption rates strongly varied by age group. For example, the adoption rates of the most realistic app ranged from 45.6% to 79.4% for people in the oldest and youngest age groups (ie, ≥75 years vs 15-34 years), respectively. Educational attainment, the presence of serious underlying health conditions, and the respondents’ stance on COVID-19 infection risks were also correlated with the predicted adoption rates but to a lesser extent.

A secure and privacy-respecting contact tracing app with the most realistic characteristics can obtain an adoption rate as high as 64% in the Netherlands. This exceeds the target uptake of 60% that has been formulated by the Dutch government. The main challenge will be to increase the uptake among older adults, who are least inclined to install and use a COVID-19 contact tracing app.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20741
Number of pages15
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number10
Early online date27 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2020

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-05-63-02 Quality


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