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ELSA Covid-19 study launched

This week, ELSA is launching a UKRI-funded Covid-19 study to assess the impact of the epidemic on the older population in England.

Covid-19 is having an unprecedented impact on people’s lives, affecting 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.

Funded through the Economic and Social Research Council via the UK Research and Innovation Covid-19 Rapid Response call, the ELSA Covid-19 study will collect data from more than 10,000 of our participants, all aged 50 years and over, asking them about their experiences of the Covid-19 crisis.

The survey will contain questions on changes in financial circumstances, work and caregiving, mental and physical health, social contact and loneliness, health and social care, stress and worries during the crisis.

We will be collecting data from people using an internet-based questionnaire, with an option of a telephone interview for those who are unable to access the survey online.

There will be two phases of data collection, with the first beginning in May 2020 and the second planned for September 2020 to look at changes in participants’ experiences as the Covid-19 crisis evolves.

Professor Andrew Steptoe who leads ELSA explains: “The repercussions of this crisis are likely to be considerable and long-lasting.

“It is vital that we collect data during the crisis to understand who has been most affected economically and socially, and how policymakers can best help them in the long run.

“ELSA is in a very unique position having already collected data from our participants over almost 20 years, allowing us to assess more accurately how the Covid-19 crisis has affected them.”

The data collected in the ELSA Covid-19 study will be made freely available to researchers as soon as possible from the UK Data Service, alongside the main ELSA dataset as Professor Steptoe explains:

“The aim is for researchers from all disciplines to be able to analyse the data to provide evidence for how we can adapt our health and social systems to make them more resilient to similar events in the future.”


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