Factors Associated With Using the COVID-19 Mobile Contact-Tracing App Among Individuals Diagnosed With SARS-CoV-2 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Observational Study

Feiko Ritsema, Jizzo R. Bosdriesz, Tjalling Leenstra, Mariska W. F. Petrignani, Liza Coyer, Anja J. M. Schreijer, Yvonne T. H. P. van Duijnhoven, Janneke H. H. M. van de Wijgert, Maarten F. Schim van der Loeff, Amy Matser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Worldwide, efforts are being made to stop the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2. Contact tracing and quarantining are key in limiting SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Mathematical models have shown that the time between infection, isolation of cases, and quarantining of contacts are the most important components that determine whether the pandemic can be controlled. Mobile contact-tracing apps could accelerate the tracing and quarantining of contacts, including anonymous contacts. However, real-world observational data on the uptake and determinants of contact-tracing apps are limited. Objective: The aim of this paper is to assess the use of a national Dutch contact-tracing app among notified cases diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection and investigate which characteristics are associated with the use of the app. Methods: Due to privacy regulations, data from the app could not be used. Instead, we used anonymized SARS-CoV-2 routine contact-tracing data collected between October 28, 2020, and February 26, 2021, in the region of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Complete case logistic regression analysis was performed to identify which factors (age, gender, country of birth, municipality, number of close contacts, and employment in either health care or education) were associated with using the app. Age and number of close contacts were modelled as B-splines due to their nonlinear relationship. Results: Of 29,766 SARS-CoV-2 positive cases, 4824 (16.2%) reported app use. Median age of cases was 41 (IQR 29-55) years, and 46.7% (n=13,898) were male. In multivariable analysis, males (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.11, 95% CI 1.04-1.18) and residents of municipalities surrounding Amsterdam were more likely to use the app (Aalsmeer AOR 1.34, 95% CI 1.13-1.58; Ouder-Amstel AOR 1.96, 95% CI 1.54-2.50), while people born outside the Netherlands, particularly those born in non-Western countries (AOR 0.33, 95% CI 0.30-0.36), were less likely to use the app. Odds of app use increased with age until the age of 58 years and decreased sharply thereafter (P<.001). Odds of app use increased with number of contacts, peaked at 8 contacts, and then decreased (P<.001). Individuals working in day care, home care, and elderly nursing homes were less likely to use the app. Conclusions: Contact-tracing app use among people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection was low in the region of Amsterdam. This diminishes the potential impact of the app by hampering the ability to warn contacts. Use was particularly low among older people, people born outside the Netherlands, and people with many contacts. Use of the app was also relatively low compared to those from some other European countries, some of which had additional features beyond contact tracing, making them potentially more appealing. For the Dutch contact-tracing app to have an impact, uptake needs to be higher; therefore, investing more into promotional efforts and additional features could be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31099
JournalJmir mhealth and uhealth
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • COVID-19
  • contact tracing
  • contact tracing app
  • digital health
  • health applications
  • mHealth
  • mobile applications
  • mobile contact tracing app
  • pandemic
  • public health
  • surveillance

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