Understanding Society has a special survey that asks our participants about their experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak.

With the current coronavirus situation in the UK, there is an even greater need for data about the experiences of the whole population. The Understanding Society COVID-19 questionnaire allows researchers to explore how the pandemic is impacting individuals, families and communities across the UK through our large and representative sample of the UK population."

Professor Michaela Benzeval

Director of Understanding Society

View profile

COVID-19 survey - latest updates

  • Wave 1 and Wave 2 data are now available. 
  • Wave 3 data will be released in early August
  • Wave 4 (July) fieldwork is currently in the field - data to be released in September.
  • Youth paper self-completion survey is currently in the field. Data release TBC.
  • There will be no data collection during August. Wave 5 will go in to the field in September, followed by Wave 6 in November and Wave 7 in January 2021.

How the survey works

From April 2020 participants from our main Understanding Society sample have been asked to complete a short web-survey. This survey covers the changing impact of the pandemic on the welfare of UK individuals, families and wider communities. Participants complete one survey a month, which includes core content designed to track changes, alongside variable content adapted each month as the coronavirus situation develops. For participants who do not use the internet, we are planning a telephone version of the questionnaire in some of the months. 

The COVID-19 survey is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Health Foundation. Fieldwork for the survey is carried out by Ipsos MORI and Kantar.

If you would like to receive updates from Understanding Society on the COVID-19 survey please join our mailing listIf you are a researcher or analyst and have a question about the COVID-19 study you can contact the COVID survey team by email. If you are a participant of the study and have a question please contact the participant liaison team

COVID-19 survey data

Data from the COVID-19 questionnaire will be made available to researchers each month via the UK Data Service. If you have a question about using the COVID-19 dataset please contact our user support team

You can find the Understanding Society COVID-19 dataset,  Study Number 8644 here. 

Questionnaire content

To date, the COVID-19 questionnaires cover:

  • Coronavirus symptoms and test results
  • Management of long-term health conditions
  • Housing
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Loneliness
  • Employment, training and looking for work
  • Financial situation
  • Partnership changes and 'living apart together'
  • Division of domestic labour
  • Relationships within the household
  • Life satisfaction
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Diet and food security
  • Home schooling
  • Special educational needs (age 12-17)
  • Food and alcohol consumption
  • Exercise and smoking
  • Travel to work
  • Contact with family and friends outside the household
  • Contact with grandchildren
  • Transport use
  • Neighbourhood cohesion
  • Religion
  • Volunteering

Each survey takes around 20 minutes to complete. The full questionnaires can be found below. 

Future questionnaire content

The call for questions is currently closed. A new call will be announced in the autumn. Join the mailing list to receive information about the call for questions when it's available.

Understanding Society welcomes suggestions from researchers on questions for future months of the COVID-19 survey. We have had a fantastic response from researchers suggesting questions for future waves of the survey - thank you to everyone who has submitted questions so far. We have incoporated some questions into the next survey and some will be carried in future months. 

Please note that if you suggest questions for the survey: 

  • Your question(s) may be combined with other questions if the content is similar or where there is a cross-over of topics.
  • Space constraints mean that we cannot include every question that is suggested and some questions may be partially carried or amended. 
  • If your topic is out of scope it will not be included. Please read the full call for questions before submitting your question. 
  • All data collected on the COVID-19 survey will be deposited with the UK Data Service at the same time. Question proposers cannot have early access to these data. 

Due to the large number of questions submitted we are not able to include every question proposed - short sets of questions are more likely to be included than long series of questions. Given the tight timescales for preparing the COVID-19 questionnaires we are unable to provide early information on questionnaire content. 


Dataset documentation

Briefing notes

See how the COVID-19 data can be used with these topic based briefing notes prepared by the Understanding Society team. 

The Economic Effects

Health and Caring

Home schooling

Family relationships

User Guide

The User Guide contains information about the Study, such as sample and questionnaire design, data collection and data processing, and information about using the dataset for research. 

Video: Using the COVID-19 survey


Latest News


Latest Blog


Contact our User Support Forum if you need help using the data or have a question for the Study team

Support forum