New COVID questions added to Understanding Society data collection

Understanding Society is launching a new survey to look specifically at the impact of coronavirus. Researchers are invited to submit ideas for the future content of this special survey.

This week Understanding Society is launching a monthly web survey on the experiences and reactions of the UK population to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the ESRC and the Health Foundation, the survey will be an integral part of Understanding Society: the UK Household Longitudinal Study and will provide researchers with vital evidence on the changing impact of the pandemic on individuals, families and communities. Researchers will be able to link the data from this web survey to answers respondents have given in previous (and future) waves of the annual Understanding Society survey.

42,000 Understanding Society adult participants from across the UK have been invited to take part in the first wave of the new Covid-19 web survey. Field work will be completed on 29 April and data should be available to researchers from the UK Data Service by late-May.

The first wave of the Covid-19 questionnaire covers:

• Coronavirus symptoms and test results

• Management of long-term health conditions

• Caring responsibilities

• Loneliness

• Employment and financial situation

• Home schooling

• Food and alcohol consumption

• Exercise and smoking

• Mental wellbeing

Each survey takes around 20 minutes to complete. Some survey content will be repeated each month, and some will be different, depending on how the coronavirus situation develops in the UK. You can find out more about the contents of the questionnaire on our website.

Professor Michaela Benzeval, Director of Understanding Society, said, “The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global event which will have a profound effect on many aspects of life in the UK. As a large and representative sample of the UK population, Understanding Society gives researchers and policy makers a detailed insight into the lives of multiple generations, allowing us to start understanding how the pandemic impacts on different people’s lives. Linking the new Covid-19 data to our existing longitudinal survey enriches these data, showing us how the social, economic and health lives of individuals and households are changing during this period and, in time, how they will affect people’s lives in the future.”

Call for questionnaire content

Researchers are invited to submit suggestions for questions to be included in future waves of the survey. Given that the survey is short in length, we won’t be able to include every question that is proposed. We are looking for questions that:

• Are in our core priority areas; (employment, income, health, family, education, civic engagement).

• Build on the longitudinal strengths of the Study, i.e. links to data we have collected before or will collect in the future.

• Focus on content that needs to be collected ‘in the moment’ rather than being asked retrospectively in a future annual survey.

• Are enhanced by the household structure of the Study.

• Are of significant research and/or policy interest.

• Complement existing content.


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