Results from an online survey conducted by the Scottish Government Highest Risk Division in March 2022 evaluating the uptake, perceived benefits and impact of the Distance Aware initiative amongst people on the Highest Risk List.
A continuing theme across user research with people on the Highest Risk List has been respondents' anxiety about the behaviour of other people and whether it puts them at risk of catching covid-19.
A survey conducted in July 2021, explored the idea of offering respondents some form of small wearable item (such as a badge, wristband or lanyard) to indicate that they would like others to keep a safe distance. Of the 4600 people surveyed, 73% felt that this would be beneficial, 11% were not interested and 16% were unsure. The high number of those interested indicated the majority of respondents were receptive to the idea.
Following this feedback, Scottish Government agreed to adopt the existing 'Distance Aware' initiative developed by the Bevan Commission and adapt it for Scotland. It was also agreed that while the initial insight came from those on the Highest Risk List, the offer should be made to anybody who was interested in it. This aligns with the scheme being open to everyone in England, Wales and Scotland to support anyone who would like access to the wearable for any reason. In addition, there were some participants very opposed to the scheme as potentially stigmatising. As such it was considered important that the scheme would be completely voluntary and did not seek to identify people as being at highest risk.
The purpose of the scheme is for people to signal that they would like additional space and extra care around them in public or work places. This depends on wider recognition of the symbol and its meaning amongst the general population. Monitoring and evaluation is assessing awareness, support, and impact on recognition, behaviour and response to the scheme in the general population.
However, as the initial interest came from people on the Highest Risk List there is also a need to evaluate the uptake, perceived benefits and impacts of the offer, and this strand of evaluation reached out to people on the Highest Risk List to find out if and how the scheme was being used.
This survey went live on Thursday 24 February 2022, closed on Thursday 3 March 2022. The survey had 3998 responses.
Aim of this research
In this research we wanted to know more about the experiences of those who have taken up the Distance Aware offer. Exploring whether it has helped to reduce anxiety, supported people to re-engage with day to day activities, and given them the confidence to be around others as restrictions continue to ease.
This will inform any future investment in or promotion of the scheme.