COVID-19 data from five national longitudinal cohort studies now available

News, Data release
17 July 2020

Researchers now have access to data about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected over 18,000 participants of five nationally representative longitudinal cohort studies based at UCL. The new data will help researchers understand the economic, health and social consequences of the coronavirus outbreak and track the lasting impact on people’s lives.

The participants, aged between 19 and 74, completed an online survey which asked about their physical health, mental health and wellbeing, family and relationships, education, work and finances, time use, and attitudes during the lockdown. The questions focused mainly on how people’s lives had changed from just before the outbreak in March 2020 up until their response to the survey which took place during the lockdown restrictions in May 2020.

In addition to the quantitative survey, an open question asked people to share, in their own words, how the pandemic had affected them and their loved ones, providing an opportunity for qualitative research. Participants were also asked to download a COVID-19 symptom tracker app, developed by King’s College London, to collect data that will also be linked to their study records in due course.

The survey was sent to participants in all four national longitudinal cohort studies run by the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) as well as participants in the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, run by the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing (LHA), also based at UCL. The five studies included are:

These studies have been following large, representative cohorts since birth, gathering information about different aspects of participants’ lives, at different stages of their lives. Researchers will be able to analyse these new COVID-19 survey data in conjunction with these longitudinal data.

Professor Alissa Goodman said: “COVID-19 has brought unprecedented and sudden changes into all our lives. The data from the COVID-19 Survey in Five National Longitudinal Studies will enable researchers to examine the impacts of the pandemic on people in the UK of different ages and backgrounds. Researchers will be able to use the new data alongside other study data, collected across more than 70 years, to understand how prior life experiences shape resilience or vulnerability to the effects of the pandemic. And in the future, as we keep up with study participants, we will be able to see how the events of recent months may play out in their lives in the longer term. The insights these data will generate will be invaluable to policymakers who need to respond to the effects of this shock event on our society and who need to act to protect the people most vulnerable to its lasting impacts.”

A number of research briefings, using the data from the first wave of the COVID-19 survey, are under preparation. These will explore a range of topics, from mental health, work, parenting and attitudes, and will be made available on the CLS website in the coming weeks.

A follow up COVID-19 survey (wave 2) is planned for August. The participants in all five studies will be invited to take part again.


Find out more about the data

For more information about the design and content of the survey, the response, data collected and weights, see the CLS website COVID-19 survey page. The questionnaire and user guide are both available to download.


Access the data

The online survey data from the four CLS studies taking part, namely the MCS, Next Steps, BCS70 and NCDS, have been de-identified and are available for researchers to download under End User Licence from the UK Data Service from today:

To download the data (SN: 8658), visit the UK Data Service website.

The data are also available from each of main pages for the four studies on the UK Data Service website:

Millennium Cohort Study

Next Steps

1970 British Cohort Study

National Child Development Study

Weights have been provided with this COVID-19 dataset to take account of non-response to the survey, in order to help researchers produce representative results. See the user guide to the data for more information.

Access to the qualitative data from the CLS studies, is available under secure conditions, on request to CLS. For more information about how to apply, please visit the CLS website.

Data from the NSHD will be available from the UK Data Service, under Special Licence, shortly.



  1. The COVID-19 Survey in Five National Longitudinal Studies was developed and led by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), based at the UCL Institute of Education, in collaboration with the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL (MRC LHA at UCL).
  2. The online survey was issued to participants in all four of CLS’s cohort studies who had provided an email address:
    • National Child Development Study (following people born across Great Britain in March 1958, since birth and up to age 62),
    • 1970 British Cohort Study (following people born across Great Britain in April 1970 since birth and up to age 50),
    • Next Steps (following people born in 1989-90 who were in Year 9 in school in England in 2002-3, and who have been surveyed since age 13/14 and up to age 30), and
    • Millennium Cohort Study (following people born in 2000-02 in the UK since 9 months old, and up to age 20. The survey was issued to cohort members and their parents).
  1. The survey was designed to cover the same core questions in each study, with minor variations across studies where necessary to preserve longitudinal continuity.
  2. The survey was also developed in collaboration with King’s College London, Twins UK team, and the organisations who are running the COVID-19 symptoms tracker app. Survey participants were asked to download the symptoms tracker app, so that information from the app can be linked to information held by the studies. The linked data will greatly enrich the information available to researchers for understanding the lifetime risk factors for COVID-19 and its symptoms, and in the future it will enable the long term health and other outcomes of those experiencing COVID-19 and its symptoms to be understood.
  3. The study design was developed in consultation with members of the CLS Scientific Advisory Network, and in collaboration with a network of 16 UK and International Longitudinal Population Studies in a process facilitated by the Wellcome Trust. The Wellcome Trust COVID-19 Questionnaire includes a Core set and a pool of recommended questions about the health, behavioural, social, economic and environmental impact of COVID-19. For more information, contact Rachel Miles (
  4. At least one further survey will be carried out during the pandemic (in August 2020). Some questions will be repeated while others will be added to enable greater depth in some areas.
  5. The Centre for Longitudinal Studies is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The Medical Research Council provides core funding for the MRC LHA at UCL.


Credit: Image by Mircea Iancu from Pixabay 

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