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Ethical framework for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing programmes for staff in workplaces


Asymptomatic testing programmes for COVID-19 have been widely discussed, but little guidance exists on ethical issues for these programmes in the workplace. We aimed to develop an ethical framework to support organisations in making decisions about whether to introduce asymptomatic testing programmes and in understanding “what good looks like” for such programmes.


We conducted a consultation in an organisation that had already introduced asymptomatic testing for its staff, using THIS Institute’s online research platform, Thiscovery. People working in the organisation were invited to take part through an online questionnaire or interview. Over 60 participants provided their views, enabling staff to say what was important to them on a range of issues relating to the asymptomatic testing programme.

The findings of the consultation were integrated with ethical and legal analysis and expert discussion to produce an ethical framework with practical recommendations and hypothetical examples to illustrate the principles.


The results of this work are being written up and will be published soon. The framework is being made available now to help support organisations in their decision-making.

Funding and ethics

This project is supported by the Wellcome Trust and led independently by THIS Institute. THIS Institute is supported by the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and healthcare for people in the UK.

The survey and interview consultation received approval from the University of Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Wellcome Trust.

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