English Longitudinal Study of Ageing COVID-19 Substudy

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Epidemiology and Public Health

Abstract

The COVID-19 crisis is having an unprecedented impact on people's lives from the perspectives of their health, psychological wellbeing, social activity, employment and financial circumstances. Older people are at high risk because of the presence of long-term health conditions, problems with mobility, as well as social isolation due to lower levels of internet use compared with the rest of the population. The repercussions of this crisis will be considerable and long-lasting. Research for years to come will need to understand who has been most affected economically and socially, and how policymakers can best help them in the long run. Additionally, researchers need to study the crisis now, and policymakers' responses to it, in order to make future health and social systems more resilient to such events in the future. There is a strong scientific case for collecting data in the time of the crisis within the framework of existing longitudinal data and infrastructure investments that already form a large part of the evidence base when it comes to understanding the links between health, economic welfare, family and social structures. There is an urgent need to monitor these processes in order to identify the extent of adverse experience, to learn how to promote resilience, and to inform policy. ELSA is uniquely positioned to do this for older people.

Our aim is to carry out assessments of a large well characterized sample of men and women aged over 50 who are participants in the long running English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). We will implement an internet assessment of the complete sample (more than 9,000 people), with telephone interviews to ensure people who are not able to use the internet can participate. We will measure experiences of COVID-19, changes in financial circumstances, work and caregiving, mental and physical health, social contact and loneliness, health and social care, stress and worries. The survey will be carried out in June 2020, with a second assessment in September/October. The study will inform policy makers and researchers about the diverse impacts of COVID-19.
 
Description This funding has permitted data collection from participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two waves of data collection have been completed, one in June/July and the second in Nov/Dec 2020. Because of lockdown and social distancing, data were collected online or by telephone interview. The response rates have been high (around 75%). Questions were asked about a multiple aspects of the pandemic and lockdown, including COVID-19 infection, other physical health issues, mental health, quality of life, health-related behaviour, income and spending, employment, volunteering and caring, and social isolation and loneliness. Data from the first wave have been deposited in the UK Data Service, and the second wave will be deposited shortly. The survey has provided high quality data on the experience of older people during the pandemic. It will be analysed in detail by multiple users in the future.
Exploitation Route This funding has permitted data collection from participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two waves of data collection have been completed, one in June/July and the second in Nov/Dec 2020. Because of lockdown and social distancing, data were collected online or by telephone interview. The response rates have been high (around 75%). Questions were asked about a multiple aspects of the pandemic and lockdown, including COVID-19 infection, other physical health issues, mental health, quality of life, health-related behaviour, income and spending, employment, volunteering and caring, and social isolation and loneliness. Data from the first wave have been deposited in the UK Data Service, and the second wave will be deposited shortly. The survey has provided high quality data on the experience of older people during the pandemic. It will be analysed in detail by multiple users in the future.

ELSA is contributing to further research related to COVID-19. It is early days yet. But the value of the study will be enhanced by analysis of the data by other academic researchers and policy analysts.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare

 
Description This project is still at an early stage. But the impact is already evident in reports from Public Health England and others, as detailed elsewhere in this submission
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Informing Government Data and Policy on COVID-19
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The data from the ELSA COVID-19 Substudy has been cited in a number of Government reports on the impact of the pandemic on health, wellbeing and economic cirsumstances. The referenced report is one example