In rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to understand changes in health behaviours and wellbeing as a result of the sweeping changes to healthcare and restrictions on daily living that have happened in a very short space of time.
Pooling research interests and experience across UEA, collaborating across the UEA Addiction Research Group, the Behavioural and Implementation Science group, and the Norfolk Institute of Health Ageing, this study focuses on changes to healthy lifestyle behaviours, as a result of COVID-19, that may fundamentally impact long-term health outcomes.
We recruited a cohort of UK-based residents to collect daily (for 84 days) health, wellbeing and behavioural data. This study used an explanatory, sequential, mixed methods design to collect longitudinal single-case (N-of-1) datasets, generating a total of 42,000 individual data points. We used repeated daily measures and now are conducting qualitative interviews with a selected sample of people to offer a situated explanatory framework. Follow up surveys are to be conducted at 3, 6 and 12 months so that we can explore which health behaviours have changed in the long-term and assess the likely long term health impact of behavioural changes observed.
Information for participants
Thank you to those who signed up for the study and completed daily surveys! This study is now closed to new participants.
Outputs and impact
The outcomes of this study will have immediate and sustained academic novelty and impact. We will make the emergent findings of preliminary analyses available immediately to underpin policy decision making. This might suggest, for example, improving access to stop smoking support, providing urgent public health advice on alcohol intake, advising and directing people to interventions to support engagement in physical activity or healthy eating under lockdown conditions.
The findings may also identify factors that explain changes in health behaviours and wellbeing over time that can be targeted through bespoke interventions or policy-based action. Our recommendations will be based on evidence of both within and between individual level health behaviours. Longer term, the impact of our findings is that we will robustly be able to demonstrate associations between changed social and cultural conditions and individual level behaviour.
We will be able to clearly demonstrate how individual behaviour changes over time under lock down conditions and how changes in public announcements, for example, may directly impact behaviour. Our analyses will inform public health modelling, future commissioning of health and wellbeing services and inparticular will contribute to policy planning for future pandemic crises.
Preliminary findings on the effect of lockdown on changes in nutrition and dietary behaviour among the cohort were included in Defra’s National Food Strategy: Part One.
The project has been funded by UEA Innovation Funding and the UEA Health and Social Care Partners.