To characterize COVID-19 epidemiology, numerous population-based studies have been undertaken to model the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Less is known about what may drive the probability to undergo testing. Understanding how much testing is driven by contextual or individual conditions is important to delineate the role of individual behavior and to shape public health interventions and resource allocation. In the Val Venosta/Vinschgau district (South Tyrol, Italy), we conducted a population-representative longitudinal study on 697 individuals susceptible to first infection who completed 4,512 repeated online questionnaires at four-week intervals between September 2020 and May 2021. Mixed-effects logistic regression models were fitted to investigate associations of self-reported SARS-CoV-2 testing with individual characteristics (social, demographic, and biological) and contextual determinants. Testing was associated with month of reporting, reflecting the timing of both the pandemic intensity and public health interventions, COVID-19-related symptoms (odds ratio, OR:8.26; 95% confidence interval, CI:6.04-11.31), contacts with infected individuals within home (OR:7.47, 95%CI:3.81-14.62) or outside home (OR:9.87, 95%CI:5.78-16.85), and being retired (OR:0.50, 95%CI:0.34-0.73). Symptoms and next within- and outside-home contacts were the leading determinants of swab testing predisposition in the most acute phase of the pandemics. Testing was not associated with age, sex, education, comorbidities, or lifestyle factors. In the study area, contextual determinants reflecting the course of the pandemic were predominant compared to individual sociodemographic characteristics in explaining the SARS-CoV-2 probability of testing. Decision makers should evaluate whether the intended target groups were correctly prioritized by the testing campaign.
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