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18.02.2021 | COVID-19 | Original Article Open Access

Sentiment analysis of user feedback on the HSE’s Covid-19 contact tracing app

Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)
Kaavya Rekanar, Ian R. O’Keeffe, Sarah Buckley, Manzar Abbas, Sarah Beecham, Muslim Chochlov, Brian Fitzgerald, Liam Glynn, Kevin Johnson, John Laffey, Bairbre McNicholas, Bashar Nuseibeh, James O’Connell, Derek O’Keeffe, Mike O’Callaghan, Abdul Razzaq, Ita Richardson, Andrew Simpkin, Cristiano Storni, Damyanka Tsvyatkova, Jane Walsh, Thomas Welsh, Jim Buckley



Digital Contact Tracing is seen as a key tool in reducing the propagation of Covid-19. But it requires high uptake and continued participation across the population to be effective. To achieve sufficient uptake/participation, health authorities should address, and thus be aware of, user concerns.


This work manually analyzes user reviews of the Irish Heath Service Executive’s (HSE) Contact Tracker app, to identify user concerns and to lay the foundations for subsequent, large-scale, automated analyses of reviews. While this might seem tightly scoped to the Irish context, the HSE app provides the basis for apps in many jurisdictions in the USA and Europe.


Manual analysis of (1287) user reviews from the Google/Apple playstores was performed, to identify the aspects of the app that users focused on, and the positive/negative sentiment expressed.


The findings suggest a largely positive sentiment towards the app, and that users thought it handled data protection and transparency aspects well. But feedback suggests that users would appreciate more targeted feedback on the incidence of the virus, and facilities for more proactive engagement, like notifications that prompt users to submit their health status daily. Finally, the analysis suggests that the “android battery” issue and the backward-compatibility issue with iPhones seriously impacted retention/uptake of the app respectively.


The HSE have responded to the public’s desire for targeted feedback in newer versions, but should consider increasing the app’s proactive engagement. The results suggest they should also raise the backward compatibility issue, regarding older iPhones, with Apple.

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