The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) announced Wednesday that two studies conducted by researchers at the university shed some light on Arkansans’ preferred locations for COVID-19 testing and the reasons why some people may decide not to get a test in the first place.
The studies were conducted as part of an effort to remove any possible barriers to testing and vaccines and to combat the resurgence of coronavirus.
In one study titled, “Arkansans’ Preferred COVID-19 Testing Locations,” which was published in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, researchers compared preferences for testing sites based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, education and insurance status. Results showed that most participants preferred drive-thru clinics for COVID-19 testing (55 percent). The second and third most preferred testing locations were clinics without drive-thru options and drive-thru locations in neighborhoods.
Results also showed that Hispanics listed community-based organizations as a preferred testing location almost as often as drive-thru clinics and clinics in general. African Americans, on the other hand, preferred testing locations at church and faith-based organizations more often than all other racial and ethnic groups. Previous studies have found that access to testing has not been equitable across sociodemographic indicators and that rural areas, lower income areas and areas with more minority residents have lower testing rates.
A better understanding of testing site preferences could improve testing and reduce delays in receiving a diagnosis, the researchers concluded.
The second study, titled “Perceived Barriers to COVID-19 Testing,” was published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and revealed that individuals might not obtain a COVID-19 test due to a variety of barriers, including:
- Confusion and uncertainty regarding testing guidelines and where to go for testing;
- Lack of accessible testing locations, especially in rural communities and communities with lower socioeconomic status;
- Perceptions that the nasopharyngeal swab method is too painful, echoing what has been reported by the media;
- Long wait times for testing results, with many participants stating that they had to wait two weeks for results, which made testing seem futile.
The results of this study provide important insights that can help public health leaders and health care providers understand and mitigate barriers to COVID-19 testing, officials said.
This project was supported by the UAMS Translational Research Institute, which is funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).