Background: The WHO has declared the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a pandemic. With no vaccine currently available, using behavioural measures to reduce the spread of the virus within the population is an important tool in mitigating the effects of this pandemic. As such, social distancing measures are being implemented globally and have proven an effective tool in slowing the large-scale spread of the virus.

Aim: This scoping review will focus on answering key questions about the state of the evidence on the behavioural determinants of adherence to social distancing measures in research on COVID-19.

Methods: A scoping review will be conducted in accordance with guidelines for best practice. Literature searches will be conducted using online databases and grey literature sources. Databases will include Medline, Web of Science, Embase and PsycInfo, alongside relevant pre-print servers. Grey literature will be searched on Google Scholar. Screening, data extraction and quality appraisal will be conducted by members of the research team, with any discrepancies resolved by consensus discussion. Quality appraisal will be conducted using the Cochrane’s ROBINS-I tool, the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool, and the JBI Critical Appraisal Checklist where appropriate. Results will be analysed by mapping findings onto the Theoretical Domains Framework and visualising characteristics of the included studies using EviAtlas. This scoping review is pre-registered with Open Science Framework.

Conclusions: The results of this study may facilitate the systematic development of behavioural interventions to increase adherence to social distancing measures.


This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Noone, C., Warner, N., Byrne, M., Durand, H., Lavoie, K., McGuire, B., McSharry, J., Meade, O., Morrissey, E., Molloy, G., O'Connor, L. & Toomey, E. 2020, 'Investigating and evaluating evidence of the behavioural determinants of adherence to social distancing measures – A protocol for a scoping review of COVID-19 research [version 2; peer review: 2 approved]', HRB Open Research, 3, article no: 46. https://doi.org/10.12688/hrbopenres.13099.2

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Last updated: 24 November 2023
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