2020 (aged 74 years)

Responding Population

The MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing (LHA) and the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) carried out a nationwide online survey in May 2020 to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the participants of five national longitudinal cohort studies and the tri-ethnic Southall and Brent Revisited cohorts.

The COVID-19 Wave 1 Survey was conducted by web, and only those for whom an email address was held were invited to take part. The decision to issue the survey initially only via the web was taken because the LHA and CLS teams were unable to send postal mailings due to social distancing restrictions on business operations at the time the survey was conducted, and the commissioning of telephone interviews was considered infeasible due to both time and cost.

The NSHD sample and response rates are:

Cohort Issued SampleEmail bouncedFailed emailOpted OutResponse
184380 (4.3%)2 (0.1%)29 (1.6%)1258 (68%)


The aim of the survey was to capture the health, social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. It focussed on aspects of people’s lives that needed to be captured immediately In Spring 2020, in order for the impact of the pandemic to be assessed and where possible, measures were chosen to maximise the use of the longitudinal measures already previously collected within the studies.

One survey was designed for all five cohorts, with the majority of questions being asked of all. However, a number of scales or questions were asked of specific cohorts only, primarily to enable longitudinal continuity with questions which had been included previously in major sweeps of each study. A small number of NSHD questions were added to the NSHD questionnaire.

It is estimated that the questionnaire took 25 minutes to complete on average.

Please note that this web questionnaire was designed for participants drawn from across the age spectrum of all the cohorts.

A summary of the content is provided below.

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 your household)
  • Home schooling your 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 & schooling arrangements (tailored questions, by age-band)
  • Whether in non-cohabiting relationship
  • Relationship satisfaction and conflict (current)
  • If study member or partner is pregnant: week of pregnancy
  • Number & 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 & reason.
  • Whether CM or anyone lives with usually received help, who from & hours pre outbreak
  • Change in help needed/received, hours & 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 & education (FE, HE, apprenticeships)

Pre-COVID19: (own & 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)
  • economic activity
  • hours
  • work location
  • whether key worker status
  • apprenticeship description

Health behaviours

Behaviours pre-COVID 19 & 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 mins or more)
  • diet (fruit & veg)
  • hours of sleep per night
  • weight

Mental health and social connectedness

  • Contact with friends & family in past 7 days (telephone, video calls, email, text, electronic messaging)
  • Freq took part in online community activity in past 7 days
  • Freq gave help to anyone outside household affected by coronavirus in past 7 days
  • Social support
  • Loneliness
  • Overall life satisfaction
  • Mental health and wellbeing scales (capturing depression and anxiety).
  • Risk
  • Patience
  • Trust
  • Trust in government
  • Trust in political leaders
  • Self-assessed change in stress, interpersonal conflict & social trust

Open question: the main ways the Coronavirus outbreak has affected your life and/or your loved ones so far, and what you think the effects might be in the future.