COVID-19 survey

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have been running a series of surveys to find out about the experiences of the participants in five national longitudinal cohort studies. The aim is to understand the economic, social and health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, the extent to which the pandemic is widening or narrowing inequalities, and the lifelong factors which shape vulnerability and resilience to its effects.

We have carried out two waves of the survey so far and participants in all four of the national longitudinal cohort studies that we manage at CLS, as well as participants in the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, have taken part.

These studies have been following large nationally representative groups of people since birth, with ages currently ranging from 19 through to 74:

Waves 1 – 3

A first online survey (Wave 1) took place in May 2020, with over 18,000 study participants taking part. Nearly 26,000 participants took part in a second survey (Wave 2) in September – October 2020. A third is planned for early 2021.

Data from Waves 1 and 2 are now available from the UK Data Service.

Wave 1 overview

The aim of the first survey was to collect insights into the lives of study participants including their physical and mental health and wellbeing, family and relationships, education, work, and finances during the first national lockdown. The questions focused mainly on how participants’ lives had changed from just before the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020 up until their response to the survey during the height of the lockdown restrictions in May 2020.

The survey covered different topics, including:

  • Physical health (including COVID-19)
  • Time use
  • Family and household
  • Financial situation and benefits
  • Employment and education
  • Health behaviours
  • Mental health and social connectedness

An open question on how the pandemic affected the lives of participants was also included. Participants were also asked to use a COVID-19 symptom tracker app, developed by King’s College London, so that the data collected through this app could be linked to their study records.

Find out more about the Wave 1 content, response and data access.
Read our initial analysis of the Wave 1 data.

Wave 2 overview

The aim of the Wave 2 survey was to capture how participants’ lives had changed from Wave 1 (in May 2020) until late summer/early autumn 2020. The topic areas mirrored closely those for Wave 1, with additional questions about:

  • Health care
  • Financial transfers
  • Life events
  • Children’s schooling in summer and autumn term

Find out more about the Wave 2 content, response and data access.

Wave 3 overview

Wave 3 will take place from January to March 2021. The majority of the content will comprise questions included in the first (May 2020) and second (September-October 2020) surveys. We ran a short consultation in September to consider additional questions that focus on relevant policy issues. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback and suggestions.

Wave 3 closely mirrors the last two waves with the addition of questions on the long-term effects of COVID, questions on the COVID vaccine, and questions examining the impact of the pandemic on jobs, pay and household income.

Latest on COVID-19


Wave 2 of COVID-19 survey data from five national longitudinal cohort studies now available

11 December 2020 Researchers can now access new information about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of almost 26,000 cohort study participants.

CLOSER blog: How the UK’s longitudinal studies are helping society navigate the COVID-19 pandemic

Professor Alissa Goodman, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), discusses how CLS rapidly responded to the UK’s lockdown by launching a special COVID-19 survey to capture time-critical experiences of the pandemic, and looks at the first analyses of data.


CLS wins major new grant to investigate impact of COVID-19

1 September 2020

The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) has secured funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to further its investigation into the immediate and longer term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people in Britain…


Poor mental health in lockdown most common among young women

7 August 2020 Young women are the most likely to have experienced high levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness in lockdown, compared to older adults, according to new research from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS).
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