New report finds planning ahead key to self-isolation success

Written by on 24th March 2021

A new report from Public Health Wales’ Research and Evaluation Division, has found people who have identified sufficient support and planned ahead for a potential period of self-isolation, feel less challenged by the prospect and more likely to succeed.   

Published today (24 March, 2021), the report combines data from two studies on the experiences of people in Wales who have had to self-isolate due to COVID-19.

The main findings of the report are:

  • Both studies showed understanding and adherence to self-isolation was high, with more than 90 per cent of contacts who responded reporting they were confident they understood what was required of them during their self-isolation period and 78 per cent saying they did not leave home during self-isolation.
  • People who take steps to plan for self-isolation and have people who can support them through self-isolation are less likely to say that self-isolation will be a challenge. 68.5 per cent of people contacted had pre-planned for a potential period of self-isolation.
  • Despite high levels of confidence, almost 1 in 5 felt self-isolation will be a challenge (18.5 per cent).
  • The most commonly reported challenges contacts entering a period of self-isolation were concerned about were: the impact on mental health (11.7 per cent), the impact on their work or business (9.5 per cent), experiencing financial problems (9.3 per cent), or providing care for someone (looking after children (11.2 per cent), or other vulnerable people (8.2 per cent)).
  • The five most commonly reported challenges experienced by contactsduring self-isolation were: Wanting to see family (66.7 per cent), wanting to see friends (60.6 per cent), a lack of exercise (58.6 per cent), loneliness (31.2per cent), and mental health difficulties (24.6 per cent)
  • Contacts living alone and those who think Coronavirus poses a greater risk to them are more likely to say that self-isolation will be a challenge.

Dr Richard Kyle, Deputy Head of Research and Evaluation, Public Health Wales, said:

“Up until now, evidence on self-isolation in contacts in Wales has been limited, so this insight provides vital information to help inform messaging and support for people in Wales to adhere to self-isolation.  

“The high levels of reported confidence and adherence amongst those who responded is welcome news. Our studies found that planning and having support for self-isolation was key so we are encouraging everyone to take time to identify people who can help them to self-isolate and find out what services are available locally to help.”   

There were noticeable differences in the reported challenges experienced by different groups. Amongst women and those of younger age (18-29 years) the impact on mental health was of greatest concern. Amongst men and those aged 40-49 years it was the impact on work and business. Whereas amongst older age groups the greatest concern was their underlying health.

Dr Alisha Davies, Head of Research and Evaluation, Public Health Wales said 

“These two innovative studies are the first systematic approach to collating in depth insights from contacts of COVID-19 isolating in Wales.

“Understanding factors which enable and challenge contacts of COVID-19 to isolate, and how these experiences differ across groups can help to better inform support and messaging for contacts of COVID-19 in response to the pandemic.”

Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director at Public Health Wales said “This is an opportunity to remind us all to take steps to be prepared for a period of self-isolation, should that arise. These insights provide valuable considerations for future action and will continue to support our work with colleagues across Health Boards, Test Trace Protect Programmes and Welsh Government in our collective action to tackle COVID-19“

The full report is available now at:

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