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Closer - The home of longitudinal research

Impacts of COVID-19

Woman wearing a face mask sits on a bus looking out the windowData and evidence from CLOSER’s longitudinal population studies have provided valuable insights for researchers and policy makers throughout the pandemic. Due to the unique nature of these studies, they can track the longer-term consequences and impacts of COVID-19 for years to come. 

Key messages

  • A unique aspect of longitudinal population studies and key advantage compared to other studies is their ability to study change within individuals as a result of the pandemic. This is because they also have pre-pandemic measures of health and behaviours on the same people, with many having followed them throughout their lives 
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, longitudinal population studies, both in the UK and internationally, rapidly increased the frequency of their surveys from years to months to capture the experience of their study participants and how the pandemic was affecting their lives. 
  • Findings from these studies have helped to understand the immediate health, social, economic, and behavioural impacts of the pandemic at both a national and regional level, and across all generations and ages. 
  • Mental health problems – in particular anxiety, loneliness and reduced wellbeing – rose substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was seen consistently across UK longitudinal population studies, which can compare mental health prior to and during the pandemic, and will continue to track these measures throughout the lives of study participants.
  • Research using data from CLOSER’s longitudinal population studies has found that socioeconomic inequalities in health, education and life chances are widening: COVID-19 has had a greater impact on those living in more disadvantaged areas, women, ethnic-minorities and those with pre-existing mental health conditions or chronic illnesses.

Evidence