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 now completed three waves of the survey. 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. Participants completed a third survey in February – March 2021.

Researchers can access data from Waves 1 and 2 from the UK Data Service. Wave 3 data should be available from early June 2021.

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 took place between February and March 2021. The majority of the content comprised questions included in the first (May 2020) and second (September-October 2020) surveys. Other questions Wave 3 were new additions, including questions about the vaccination programme and long COVID. Work and finances, a topic covered in the previous waves, featured again in this wave, but with additional questions on pay and household income.

Data collected in this wave should be available to researchers from early June 2021, through the UK Data Service.

Find out more about the Wave 3 content.

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL