Impacts on social connections and wellbeing of COVID-19 policies in the Older Population: CFAS cohort Over 75s (OPPO)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Public Health and Primary Care

Abstract

The recent introduction of social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak will have had a profound impact on older people's physical and mental health. At the same time there has been a fundamental shift in the use of online communication, both for informal contact with family members and online health consultations as well as for the functions of everyday life.

The Cognitive Function and Ageing Study II (CFAS II) is a population representative longitudinal study examining the health, wellbeing, cognition, social networks and health and social care usage of older people in three diverse geographies of England including rural areas and those with high social deprivation. CFAS II began in 2009 but has recently completed (2018-2019) a 10-year follow-up interview with a sample of participants. During this follow up interview, measures of interest to this project, such as wellbeing, social networks, online communication and access to services were gathered.

The research team are currently undertaking a new wave of interviews that will enable direct assessment of the mental health impact that social distancing measures have had on this vulnerable group along with any changes to communications and social networks that have occurred.

The aim of this project is to analyse these effects, and to undertake a further follow-up interview to investigate the longer term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on this group of people; utilising extensive data collected from previous waves of the study.

Aims:
1) To estimate the immediate and persistent impacts on mental health, wellbeing, general health of the COVID-19 pandemic;

2) To estimate social care usage and support received from others (family/neighbours etc.) and how this has changed over the course of the pandemic.

3) To examine changes in mobile, smartphone and social network usage by comparing data from previous waves, exploring to what extent there has been new usage as a result of the crisis and if this has persisted.

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