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Key studies to include questions about the impact of COVID-19

The UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) has launched a nationwide survey to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 50,000 people are being asked to complete a special online survey, which will gather insights into how COVID-19 has affected different aspects of their lives, including their physical and mental health and wellbeing, family and relationships, education, work, and finances.

The data collected from the CLS studies will be made available to researchers through the UK Data Service this summer 2020.

The survey will be sent to participants of all five of the national longitudinal cohort studies run at CLS and the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL (MRC LHA at UCL). These studies have been following large nationally representative groups of people since birth, and their ages currently range from 19 years through to 74.

The studies included are:

The survey will also be sent to members of SABRE, the tri-ethnic Southall and Brent Revisited cohort, also led by MRC LHA at UCL.

UCL hopes the data from the survey will help researchers understand the health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. It will be especially important for understanding how people at different life stages are being affected, and how prior life experiences shape resilience or vulnerability to its effects. By following participants’ lives into the future, the studies will be able to track the longer-term consequences of the pandemic too.

CLS Director, Professor Alissa Goodman, said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 has meant big and sudden changes to how we all live our lives. This new survey will be especially powerful because it is being issued in nationally representative studies that have already been tracking people from childhood and across the whole of their lives.”

This special survey will be repeated, so that the implications of COVID-19 can be tracked over time. If you would like to make any suggestions for the content of these follow-ups, please contact CLS. The questionnaire for the first online survey questionnaire can be accessed here.

The information collected through this new survey will be de-identified and made available to researchers, so that it can be analysed alongside the rich data the studies have previously collected about participants’ lives.

The first data collection round will take place in May, and the first set of data will be released to researchers in summer 2020 through the UK Data Service. Further data collections will be made available later in the year.

ONS’ Labour Force Survey (LFS)

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has also announced it will include questions about the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in its Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The questions will cover whether sickness absences, or reduced and increased hours are COVID-19- related, and whether these are due to sickness, self-isolation or caring for others.

In a recent newsletter to data users, the ONS said it intends to include additional questions to “paint a picture of the impact of COVID-19” and that it is working to “ensure that the UK has the vital
information needed to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy and society.”

The ONS also announced it has launched a new mode of delivery for its LFS and Annual Population Survey (APS) and has transitioned from face-to-face to telephone capture. It said this shift plus other new operational processes it is putting in place are designed to “improve contact and response rates.”