Although many pandemics have occurred throughout human history, digital technologies have made it possible to develop new tools to deal with these events. But now researchers in Japan have found that some of these systems may not be as effective as we originally hoped, indicating that we have much to learn about preventing digital infections.

In a study published recently in Environmental health and preventive medicineResearchers at the University of Tsukuba found that although it is associated with some positive health behaviors, the use of a local system is not associated with the prevention of COVID-19.

Amabara-chan of Ibaraki is a system designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Like the COVID-19 contact confirmation application (COCOA), an international contact tracking application, the success of the system was limited as the number of active users was lower than expected. However, the system may have had a positive effect on health behaviors and attitudes that could limit the spread of infection, something researchers at Tsukuba University have sought to address.

Ibaraki Amabie-chan’s registration may have reminded users to take preventive action against infection. As contact tracking systems are a new technology, we wanted to study the factors that make them work so that we can identify areas for improvement. “

Assistant Daisuke Hori, first author

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To do so, the researchers conducted an anonymous web-based study of 347 people at two different workplaces in Tsukuba, Japan. The study gathered the demographics of the participants, as well as the behavior to prevent infections, the fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 and the use of both Amabie-chan by Ibaraki and COCOA.

“The results were surprising,” explains lead researcher Professor Shinichiro Sasahara. “Although Ibaraki’s use of Amabie-chan has been linked to COCOA use and physical condition management, such as measuring body temperature, we have not found a link between Ibaraki’s use of Amabie-chan and fear of COVID-19 or nine other types. behaviors focused on preventing infection ”.

“Our findings show that Ibaraki’s use of Amabie-chan was not entirely related to infection control behavior. As such, further research is needed to investigate the factors that influence the use of this system and the behaviors that prevent infection, ”said Hori’s assistant.

Identifying factors that affect efficiency is crucial for improving existing systems or designing new ones that encourage consumers to adopt safer behaviors. Further research is needed to understand the factors that make such systems attractive to consumers in order to prevent the spread of infection. Improving such systems so that they are more cost-effective and easier to use can be crucial to effectively address future pandemics.

Reference in the magazine:

Hori, D., et al. (2022) The use of Amabie-chan by Ibaraki and its relationship to infection prevention and fear of COVID-19: a cross-sectional study by the Tsukuba Salutogenic Occupational Cohort Study. Environmental health and preventive medicine. doi.org/10.1265/ehpm.22-00052.

The story first appeared in News Medical

Local system use not correlated with prevention of COVID-19, study reveals

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