The very low response rate to this survey militates against the validity of the findings. Response to Gao G, Lang R, Oxoby RJ, et al. Drivers of downloading and reasons for not downloading COVID-19 contact tracing and exposure notification apps: A national cross-sectional survey. PLoS One. 2022 Jul 15;17(7):e0269783.

Sheetal Surjeet, Deepali Bhardwaj, Jacob Puliyel.

We commend the authors for their effort to find out why Canadians are not downloading COVID contact tracing apps. However, their effort to interrogate a representative sample of the population was frustrated by public suspicion or apathy which may have been the reason for the low uptake of the software in the first place.

Although the authors write that the response rate was 36%, only 4503 of the 14887 completed the questionnaire and the real response rate was only 30.24%. This must have been particularly galling to the authors, given that the questionnaire was administered to ‘panellists’ registered with the Agnus Reid Institute forum and who have volunteered themselves to respond to multiple surveys and who receive a remuneration depending on the surveys they participate in. (Agnus Reid Institute. How we poll. Available at Downloaded 17/October 2022). This is manifestly different from other surveys administered to persons in the general public who may have little motivation to spend time answering inquisitive questions.
No effort was made to analyse if those who completed the questionnaire were similar to others on the panel who did not respond. We can suspect that the population who responded was not a random sample given the fact that only 7% of the population in Alberta have downloaded the app but in the sample studied 23% had downloaded it.
With this and the low response rate, the findings are unlikely to be reliable.
We also suspect that the study was limited by the close-ended nature of the questionnaire. This will have helped ease the analysis, but free text answers to a question on how uptake can be improved may have been revealing.

Sheetal Surjeet, Deepali Bhardwaj, Jacob Puliyel.
International Institute of Health Management Research
Delhi 110075 India