New coronavirus data released as UK Data Service launches COVID-19 theme page

Article dated: 28 May 2020

The first wave of the Understanding Society COVID-19 survey is now available to researchers through the UK Data Service.

Its release coincides with the launch of a dedicated UK Data Service COVID-19 theme page, which helps researchers by bringing together information and links to a number of ongoing key COVID-19 studies. 

The new Understanding Society COVID-19 survey asks thousands of respondents about the impact of the coronavirus on the welfare of UK individuals, families and wider communities. This first wave was fielded in April 2020.

The web-based questionnaire was made possible through funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Health Foundation, and forms an integral part of Understanding Society, a representative sample of UK households, with boost samples of black and minority ethnic groups. Researchers can link data from the COVID-19 survey to answers respondents have given in past (and future) waves of the annual survey.

Participants complete a short regular survey, which includes core content designed to track changes, alongside variable content, which will be adapted as the coronavirus situation develops, drawing on proposals from the research community. The Wave 1 data, released today, includes questions on coronavirus symptoms and test results, long-term health conditions, caring, loneliness and mental health, employment and financial security, time use in the household, home schooling, food and alcohol consumption, smoking and exercise.

Over 17,450 participants completed the survey in the first month. The second wave of the online survey is currently in the field, and telephone interviews have started for respondents who live in a household where no-one is a regular internet user. Data from the second wave will be available by the end of June.

Researchers can access the new dataset via the UK Data Service.  A User Guide is also available to help researchers make the best use of these data.

To highlight some of the features of the dataset, the Understanding Society team is putting together short briefing notes focusing on specific topics. The first briefing note on The Economic Effects of COVID-19 pandemic is now available to download.

We expect to run as normal a service as possible during this COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Please visit our COVID-19 page for the latest information.