Contact tracing indicators for COVID-19: Rapid scoping review and conceptual framework


Florian Vogt, Karishma Krishna Kurup, Paul Mussleman, Caroline Habrun, Madeleine Crowe, Alexandra Woodward, Giovanna Jaramillo-Gutierrez, John Kaldor, Sirenda Vong, Victor Del Rio Vilas

PLOS ONE, 2022 Feb 28;17(2):e0264433. DOI:

Background: Contact tracing is one of the key interventions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but its implementation varies widely across countries. There is little guidance on how to monitor contact tracing performance, and no systematic overview of indicators to assess contact tracing systems or conceptual framework for such indicators exists to date.

Methods: We conducted a rapid scoping review using a systematic literature search strategy in the peer-reviewed and grey literature as well as open source online documents. We developed a conceptual framework to map indicators by type (input, process, output, outcome, impact) and thematic area (human resources, financial resources, case investigation, contact identification, contact testing, contact follow up, case isolation, contact quarantine, transmission chain interruption, incidence reduction).

Results: We identified a total of 153 contact tracing indicators from 1,555 peer-reviewed studies, 894 studies from grey literature sources, and 15 sources from internet searches. Two-thirds of indicators were process indicators (102; 67%), while 48 (31%) indicators were output indicators. Only three (2%) indicators were input indicators. Indicators covered seven out of ten conceptualized thematic areas, with more than half being related to either case investigation (37; 24%) or contact identification (44; 29%). There were no indicators for the input area “financial resources”, the outcome area “transmission chain interruption”, and the impact area “incidence reduction”.

Conclusions: Almost all identified indicators were either process or output indicators focusing on case investigation, contact identification, case isolation or contact quarantine. We identified important gaps in input, outcome and impact indicators, which constrains evidence-based assessment of contact tracing systems. A universally agreed set of indicators is needed to allow for cross-system comparisons and to improve the performance of contact tracing systems.