Social distancing measures have been implemented globally in a bid at mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This scoping review focused on answering key questions about the focus, quality and generalisability of the quantitative evidence on the determinants of adherence to social distancing measures in research during the first wave of COVID-19.
This scoping review is pre-registered with Open Science Framework, and the protocol has been published. Literature searches were conducted using online databases and grey literature sources. Screening, data extraction and quality appraisal was conducted by members of the research team, with discrepancies resolved by consensus discussion. Quality appraisal was conducted using the Cochrane's ROBINS-I tool, the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool, and the JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist. The potential determinants of adherence to social distancing measures examined in the included studies were coded to domains and constructs of the Theoretical Domains Framework.
The review included 84 studies. The majority of included studies were conducted in Western Europe and the USA. Many lacked theoretical input, were at risk for bias, and few were experimental in design. The most commonly coded domains of the TDF in the included studies were 'Environmental Context and Resources' (388 codes across 76 studies), 'Beliefs about Consequences' (34 codes across 21 studies), 'Emotion' (28 codes across 12 studies), and 'Social Influences' (26 codes across 16 studies). The least frequently coded TDF domains included 'Optimism' (not coded), 'Intentions' (coded once), 'Goals' (2 codes across 2 studies), 'Reinforcement' (3 codes across 2 studies), and 'Behavioural Regulation' (3 codes across 3 studies).
Examining the focus of the included studies identified few studies using experimental designs to test methods of increasing adherence to social distancing measures and a lack of studies on potentially important determinants of adherence such as reinforcement, goal setting and self-monitoring. The quality of the included studies was variable and their generalisablity was threatened by their reliance on convenience samples.