Drivers of downloading and reasons for not downloading COVID-19 contact tracing and exposure notification apps: A national cross-sectional survey


Gao, Lang, Oxoby, Mourali, et al.


July 15, 2022



Bluetooth-enabled smartphone apps have been developed and implemented in different sites globally to help overcome capacity limitations of traditional interview-based COVID-19 contact tracing. Two apps are currently available in Canada: ABTraceTogether exclusively in Alberta and COVID Alert in nine other provinces and territories. This study aims to examine factors associated with downloading of these apps to inform targeted promotion and marketing to increase app uptake.


We performed a cross-sectional survey with adult participants (≥18 years old) from an online national panel. Participants were asked if they had downloaded an app and, if applicable, reasons for not downloading. Logistic regression was used to identify sociodemographic factors and trusted information sources associated with downloading and reasons for not downloading.


Of the included 4,503 respondents (36% response rate), 1,394 (31%) had downloaded an app. Demographic and socioeconomic factors positively associated with app download were: 1) being female, 2) higher household income, 3) higher education level attained, and 4) more liberal political views. The odds of downloading an app were higher for participants who trusted health-related information sources, and lower for those who trusted internet searches, family and friend, or Facebook. The most cited reasons for not downloading were related to data security concerns and perceived lack of benefit from the apps.


These findings identify sociodemographic segments with the lowest app uptake, reasons for not downloading and trusted information sources to inform targeted promotion and marketing strategies to improve uptake of apps to facilitate contact tracing.