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English longitudinal study of ageing Covid-19 substudy

The Covid-19 crisis is having an unprecedented impact on people's lives from the perspectives of 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 due to lower levels of internet use compared with the rest of the population. The repercussions of this crisis will be considerable and long-lasting. Research for years to come will need to understand who has been most affected economically and socially, and how policymakers can best help them in the long run. Additionally, researchers need to study the crisis now, and policymakers' responses to it, in order to make future health and social systems more resilient to such events in the future. There is a strong scientific case for collecting data in the time of the crisis within the framework of existing longitudinal data and infrastructure investments that already form a large part of the evidence base when it comes to understanding the links between health, economic welfare, family and social structures. There is an urgent need to monitor these processes in order to identify the extent of adverse experience, to learn how to promote resilience, and to inform policy. ELSA is uniquely positioned to do this for older people. Our aim is to carry out assessments of a large well characterized sample of men and women aged over 50 who are participants in the long running English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). We will implement an internet assessment of the complete sample (more than 9,000 people), with telephone interviews to ensure people who are not able to use the internet can participate. We will measure experiences of Covid-19, changes in financial circumstances, work and caregiving, mental and physical health, social contact and loneliness, health and social care, stress and worries. The survey will be carried out in June 2020, with a second assessment in September/October. The study will inform policy makers and researchers about the diverse impacts of Covid-19.

Lead investigator:

Andrew Steptoe


University College London

Primary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Secondary topic:

Families & households

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection

In Progress

Type of data being collected:

Phone survey

Unit of real-time data collection


Start date


End date



Periodic (other)