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The experience of people with dementia and cognitive impairment in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic: A quantitative analysis of ELSA

This project, funded by the National Institute on Health Research, aims to quantify the short, medium and long-term social and health impacts and inequalities among people with dementia and cognitive impairment of social distancing and self-isolation, the development and recovery from COVID-19 infection, mental health and well-being, health behaviours, and access to care.

Using data from the ELSA COVID-19 Substudy and data from the main ELSA interviews, the project will address the following research questions:


1. What are the experiences of older people with dementia and cognitive impairment during the pandemic in terms of shielding, self-isolation, and the development of and recovery from COVID-19 infection?


2. How has COVID-19 affected access to health and social care and treatment for non-COVID-19 health conditions?


3. What changes in lifestyle behaviours (alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, weight) occurred during and after the pandemic? How do these behaviours interact? Do changes in one domain result in collateral changes in others?


4. What are the effects of the pandemic on individuals’ mental health and well-being? What are the short, medium and long-term psychological responses and associated factors?


5. What are the socio-economic inequalities, geographical differences and impact of key co-morbid conditions on all of the above?


6. What are the policy implications of this understanding of the experience of COVID-19 for improving the outcomes of this high-risk group?

Final report

Study team

Principal Investigator: Dr Paola Zaninotto


Co-Investigators: Professor Andrew Steptoe and Professor Nick Steel


Researchers: Dr Brian Beach

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