RAPID: Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 Through Contact Tracing: The Influence of Age and Interview Protocol Grant

RAPID: Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 Through Contact Tracing: The Influence of Age and Interview Protocol .


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted daily life, both socially and economically, worldwide. Epidemiologists have cautioned that a return to “normal activities” requires contact tracing, which begins with interviews of infected persons and allows for the identification and isolation of other exposed individuals. Critically, contact tracing interviews are fundamentally a memory task, yet the methods used generally do not incorporate memory-facilitating techniques. Further, research has generally found that critical groups in this pandemic, children and the elderly, often perform worse on memory tasks than adolescents and young and middle-aged adults. As such, there is reason for concern about the accuracy and completeness of reports provided in contact tracing interviews, particularly for individuals within critical life phases. This project examines the time-critical issue of how enhanced memory strategies can improve contact tracing. Through this research, developmental and cognitive science can play a role in our recovery from this pandemic, as well as other health-related crises.The proposed study tests whether memory for contacts can be improved across the lifespan utilizing empirically-informed interview techniques. Specifically, this study tests whether individuals between the ages of 9 and 90 recall more contacts when queried via a cognitively-informed contact tracing interview, as compared to a baseline interview. The study will also examine the effectiveness of two types of administration: a self-administered survey format, and a live interview via video-conferencing. Developmental differences in the nature of the contacts recalled, such as the individual’s familiarity with the contact, will also be analyzed. The results of this study will directly inform our ability to conduct effective contact tracing interviews with individuals of all ages. Findings can also aid frontline workers’ ability to conduct safe, efficient, and effective developmentally-appropriate interviews.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • May 15, 2020 - June 30, 2021

sponsor award ID

  • 2031043