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Disabled people and Covid-19 in the UK

Disabled people are vulnerable to health and social impacts of Covid-19. For many, their support needs and their impairments make them more susceptible to the condition and increase the risk of mortality. This qualitative study will explore disabled people's experiences of the epidemic in the short and medium term. It will also document the impact of social isolation and the interruption of support on their wellbeing, the barriers and facilitators of this process and lessons learned for policy and practice. We will conduct 60 in-depth telephone interviews with a range of disabled people, including parents of disabled children, with different conditions, in different social and physical locations across England and Scotland. People will be recruited via disabled people's organisations, social care organisations, parent support groups and voluntary bodies. We will adopt a quota sampling approach to select individuals in each category. We will also interview 15 key informants drawn from these organisations to understand broader experiences of their communities. Interviews for both individuals and key informants will cover impairment-specific health and rehabilitation, general health, social care, everyday life, mental health and isolation, and suggestions for solutions to barriers experienced. After six months, interviews will be repeated to track changes over time, so that we can understand short and medium term impacts. All interviews will be transcribed and we will take an inductive approach and conduct thematic analysis, looking for themes and categories. Findings will be disseminated via disability research and public health research journals and directly to policy-makers. They will also be disseminated to lay publics via broadcast and print media.

Lead investigator:

Tom Shakespeare


London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Primary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Secondary topic:

Charities & volunteering

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Phone survey

Unit of real-time data collection



Periodic (other)