Wave 1 COVID-19 survey content and data

Wave 1 of the COVID-19 Survey in Five National Longitudinal Studies took place in May 2020, collecting information from over 18,000 participants across five longitudinal studies.

The data from the four CLS studies taking part (the Millennium Cohort Study, Next Steps, the 1970 British Cohort Study and the National Child Development Study) has been de-identified and is available for researchers to download under End User Licence from the UK Data Service. 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 Steps1970 British Cohort Study – National Child Development Study.

Access to the qualitative data from the CLS studies, is available under secure conditions, on request to CLS. Find out more about how to apply for access.

Data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development will be available from the UK Data Service, under Special Licence, shortly.

Response to wave 1



Millennium Cohort Study (cohort members)


Millennium Cohort Study (parents)


Next Steps


1970 British Cohort Study


1958 National Child Development Study


MRC National Survey of Health and Development (1946 British birth cohort)




Further information about response to the survey and the derivation of response rates is available in the User Guide.

For more information about handling missing data in longitudinal studies, see our Handling Missing Data page.


Survey content

The aim of the 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 lockdown. The questions focussed 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.

Explore the topics covered below. The complete questionnaire is also available to download from this page as part of the documentation for the survey data.

Physical health

  • Whether has had COVID-19
  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • Self-rated general health (current & pre-COVID-19)
  • Long-standing health conditions
  • Whether routine appointments, surgery, cancer treatments were cancelled.
  • Medication (1946 birth cohort only)
  • Whether in defined vulnerable category
  • Extent of compliance with social distancing guidelines

Time use

Time use on typical weekday since outbreak. Numeric hours (rounded to nearest hour):

  • Paid work
  • Volunteering/unpaid work (not for own household)
  • Home schooling own children
  • Other interactive activities with children
  • Caring for someone other than a child
  • Housework (e.g. cleaning, laundry, cooking, DIY)
  • Formal learning as part of a course
  • Physical activity/exercise
  • Leisure activities and hobbies (TV, gaming, reading, news, listening to music, gardening, online shopping, mealtime)
  • Socialising – talking, video-calling, messaging with non-household members
  • Travelling for work
  • Shopping or essential appointments
  • Personal care
  • Ill in bed
  • Other
  • Hours spent outside of home

Family and household

  • Current household composition (household grid)
  • Children who do not live in household
  • Whether been changes to people who live with since outbreak
  • Whether started living with partner since outbreak
  • Changes to household since outbreak (e.g. whether chid moved in/has moved in with child)
  • Change in childcare and schooling arrangements (tailored questions, by age-band)
  • Whether in non-cohabiting relationship
  • Relationship satisfaction and conflict (current)
  • If cohort member or partner is pregnant: week of pregnancy
  • Number and age of children live with
  • Care/school attendance children under 4 pre/current outbreak. If attending school, reason (e.g. key worker)
  • If any children aged 5-16 physically attending school and reason
  • Whether cohort member or anyone lives with usually received help, who from and hours pre outbreak
  • Change in help needed/received, hours and who from post outbreak
  • Number of rooms in house
  • Postcode
  • Access to garden

Financial situation and benefits

  • Subjective assessment of how managing financially pre and post outbreak
  • Food security, use of food banks
  • Receipt of benefits (self and/or partner) in 3 months before outbreak
  • New claims for benefits since outbreak
  • Use of mortgage/rent/debt holidays since outbreak

Employment and education (FE, HE, apprenticeships)

Pre-COVID19 (own and partner):

  • economic activity
  • apprenticeship type
  • hours
  • occupation (title, description)
  • contract type (fixed-term, zero-hours) (own and partner)
  • apprenticeship description

In education or apprenticeship:

  • subject of study
  • institution name and town
  • course length
  • current year of study
  • how learning activity has changed: taking a break, online learning with/without contact, drop-out
  • satisfaction with learning resources provided by institution, and whether has been able to continue studies effectively (0-10)
  • whether accepted a college/university place for September; name/town of college/university; whether still planning to do this, deferring, or no longer planning to do this (MCS only)

Since COVID-19 (own/partner’s):

  • economic activity
  • hours
  • work location
  • whether key worker status
  • apprenticeship description

Health behaviours

Behaviours pre-COVID 19 and current:

  • smoking (number of cigarettes)
  • vaping
  • alcohol (number and type of drinks and some aspects of problematic drinking)
  • physical activity (number of days did 30 minutes or more)
  • diet (fruit and veg)
  • hours of sleep per night
  • weight

Mental health and social connectedness

  • Contact with friends and family in past seven days (telephone, video calls, email, text, electronic messaging)
  • Frequency took part in online community activity in past seven days
  • Frequency gave help to anyone outside household affected by coronavirus in past seven days
  • Social support
  • Loneliness
  • Overall life satisfaction
  • Mental health and wellbeing scales (capturing depression and anxiety)
  • Risk
  • Patience
  • Trust in government
  • Trust in political leaders
  • Self-assessed change in stress, interpersonal conflict and social trust

Open question

Open question: the main ways the Coronavirus outbreak has affected cohort member’s life and/or loved ones so far, and what they think the effects might be in the future.

Link to symptom tracker app

Link to the Zoe COVID-19 symptom tracker, and an opt-out option for cohort members who did not wish their tracker data to be linked to the data held by the study.

Using the data for research

The data from the first wave of our survey are now available to researchers, through the UK Data Service.

If you’re planning a research project using our COVID-19 data, please let us know, so we can make sure we add your work to our online bibliography when published.

On 6 August we ran an online training session to help researchers find their way around the COVID-19 data and the weights we’ve included.


Questionnaire for Wave 1

Online COVID-19 questionnaire sent out in May 2020 (first wave).

PDF: 460,01 KB


User guide

User guide for Wave 1 for the COVID-19 Survey in Five National Longitudinal Studies.

PDF: 859,96 KB

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsfeedback@ucl.ac.uk