RR:C19 Evidence Scale rating by reviewer:
Potentially informative. The main claims made are not strongly justified by the methods and data, but may yield some insight. The results and conclusions of the study may resemble those from the hypothetical ideal study, but there is substantial room for doubt. Decision-makers should consider this evidence only with a thorough understanding of its weaknesses, alongside other evidence and theory. Decision-makers should not consider this actionable, unless the weaknesses are clearly understood and there is other theory and evidence to further support it.
This manuscript by Mishra & Dexter provides results from a survey conducted to assess the understanding and trust by the general public in the revised COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine guidance released in December 2021. An online survey of 603 participants using a non-probability convenience sample facilitated through Prolific was conducted. Participants were asked about their understanding of and trust in CDC guidance using scenarios. The major strength of the study is the timeliness of the survey, being conducted less than 2 weeks after the changes to the guidance were announced. Unfortunately, the use of a non-probability convenience sample limits the external validity of the study. Further, the manuscript is extremely brief and the methods section does not fully describe the participant recruitment (other than stating it is through Prolific) nor does it detail the questions that were asked. For example, they state that 25% of participants correctly answered all 4 scenario questions and 30% correctly answered all 4 personal questions. However, there is not indication of what the scenarios are or how the “correct response” was calculated. Apparently, the methods and the questionnaire are included in a supplemental PDF file. Given that the article itself was fewer than 700 words, one would think that the methods section could have been expanded to include this information. The authors include both the online aspect of the survey and the use of a non-probability sample as limitations of the study. Sometimes these limitations can’t be helped, but a more thorough description of the selection of the sample and of the questionnaire would help the reader better judge the evidence provided.