Study explores impact of COVID-19 on adults

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne is investigating the impact of Covid-19 on adults.  The same study is also taking place in the USA and UK.  Concerns about whether people have coped in isolation have prompted a weekly survey to identify how adults living in Australia are dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) issues such as illness, isolation, and social distancing.

The international social study of the health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19 is open to all adults aged over 18 living in Australia, including non-citizens and non-residents. People do not have to be in isolation or quarantine or diagnosed with COVID-19 to take part.

University of Melbourne and National Ageing Research Institute researchers, together with their counterparts in the USA and UK, want to understand more about the impact of COVID-19 on wellbeing, mental health, social functioning, physical health, and use of services.

Dr Anita Goh, a National Ageing Research Institute and University of Melbourne Research Fellow, and Royal Melbourne Hospital Clinical Neuropsychologist, said no one knew what the unprecedented pandemic’s effects would be. “It is unclear whether social demographic factors or individual characteristics might make some people more at risk of poor wellbeing and/or mental and physical health, or whether certain activities could buffer against adverse health effects,” Dr Goh said.

“This study is crucial as there are limited longitudinal survey studies on the wellbeing effects of COVID-19 across time, including while restrictions are in place, while they are lifted partially or fully, and then in the recovery phases.” Participation is voluntary and anonymous via weekly surveys taken online or by pen and paper via mail. Once governments declare the pandemic over, an optional 40-minute follow up interview will be offered.

Questions cover general wellbeing, mental and physical health, activities such as exercise, whether people are isolating, and services used. The first survey takes 20-30 minutes, and then participants can opt to complete further (shorter) weekly surveys.

Dr Goh said the results would inform government decisions in Australia and internationally. “Researchers in the UK (University College London) and the USA are also conducting this study, so we can compare results between our countries,” Dr Goh said. “Our sample size is too small at the moment to make meaningful comments on the Australian experience. We really need the Australian public to support this research by completing the surveys to tell us how they are coping and how we can best support their wellbeing.

“Participation in our study will give us really important information from Australians, to help us develop strategies or tools for supporting the wellbeing of Australians during and following the pandemic. I really encourage everyone to complete this survey so we can plan our response to COVID-19.”

The study is funded by the National Ageing Research Institute and has University of Melbourne ethics approval. Study links:

https://redcap.nari.edu.au/redcap/surveys/?s=KWNXCXERXK

https://tinyurl.com/naricovid19

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