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Responding to Covid-19

As leaders in social research, we know the impacts of Covid-19 will shape society for years to come. While the disruption is extraordinary, it’s vital to assess how our lives are changing. The public’s priorities are also critical for policy making and the path out of the pandemic.

At NatCen, we’re generating new solutions to collect robust and relevant data. We’re finding out how older people are coping, and tracking people’s time use during lockdown. We’ve helped evaluate the contact tracing app pilot on the Isle of Wight. Now, we’re working on the major Covid-19 infection study to assess prevalence of the disease in the UK.

Society’s shift to online interaction is changing research today and in the future. We’ve pushed the boundaries, with the UK’s first probability-based online and telephone panel and its first online deliberative poll using videoconferencing. Today, we see this online capacity as key to unlocking the sector's response to Coronavirus.

Work with us

Online and offline, we’re questioning orthodoxies to deliver research where it's needed. Success is coming through working in close partnership with customers. Get in touch to speak with us about applying our cutting-edge methods in your area of interest.

Some of our current studies

  • For Public Health England, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey are conducting an online follow-up study of participants from the last four years of the survey to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the diet, nutrition and physical activity of the UK population.
  • NatCen will lead an ESRC-funded project to examine which groups have been hardest hit by the immediate and longer-term financial and mental health impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak, using data from monthly updates to Understanding Society, the UK household longitudinal study. The team will assess how high-risk groups recover over time, and identify personal characteristics and interventions associated with a fuller or quicker recovery. The project will also examine the consequences of government policy such as the job retention/furlough scheme.
  • Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the team at ScotCen has adapted this year's Scottish Health Survey to be completed via a telephone interview, rather than face to face. Continuing the survey in this way will help to provide a better understanding of the health and lifestyles of people in Scotland during these challenging times. As well as many of the usual survey measures, the telephone survey will also determine whether participants had coronavirus and explore any changes to key health determinants such as drinking, smoking, and weight, during the outbreak.

  • The ELSA Covid-19 study, part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, will shape national understanding of the impact of the crisis on over 50s. We’re using a support telephone line to help older people participate online, not in place of face-to-face interaction but as part of an integrated and affordable model.
  • The online Time Use Study for the Office for National Statistics, run using a sample from the NatCen Opinion Panel, is assessing how people are living under lockdown. A preliminary data analysis was released on 27 May.
  • We are taking the English Housing Survey online with a follow-up study tracking the impacts of the pandemic.
  • For the Department for Transport, we are carrying out a new National Travel Attitudes Study (NTAS), to understand people’s views on travel and transport in today’s world. Read more about the study here.
  • The Education Endowment Foundation has commissioned us to evaluate the national Online Tuition Pilot. This major project aims to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 school closures on the attainment gap. As evaluation partner we will help tutoring organisations, schools and policy makers to best support students at risk of falling behind.
  • Our continuous Family Resources Survey, led by ONS for the Department for Work and Pensions, which consists of one-hour face-to-face interviews has moved to telephone in response to the pandemic.
  • We're exploring the views of DWP payment claimants following the change to the benefit assessments process since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Wellcome Monitor is an ongoing study of the British adult population’s awareness and knowledge of, engagement with, and attitudes towards science and health research. This year, the survey fieldwork was run shortly after the implementation of lockdown in the UK, and additional questions were included looking at people’s experiences of the Coronavirus outbreak, their views on the restrictions being put in place, and their trust in the information being provided.
  • NatCen and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been asked by NHS Digital to carry out the National Study of Health and Wellbeing: Children and Young People 2020, following up with participants of the 2017 study. It is taking place across England during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and seeks to understand the impact of the pandemic, lockdown and school closures on children and young peoples’ wellbeing.
  • Our consultation with UKRI-funded doctoral students aims to understand student's experiences of UKRI’s extension policies, the wider effects of Covid-19 on their work and wellbeing, and the mitigating strategies and support that institutions have offered.

  • As part of our wider programme of work centring around the annual Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers for DfE, we are running a web survey of childcare providers in England to understand more about how the early years sector has been affected by COVID-19.

Methodology, training and expertise

In response to the Coronavirus, we have taken our training courses, delivered in partnership with the Social Research Association, online. You can find out more and browse the latest online courses at NatCen Learning.

Our monthly free seminar series, in partnership with City University and the European Social Survey, have also moved online. Recordings of the latest methodology webinars are available here.

Our researchers are leading debates about relevant and robust social research in the context of Covid-19. In our new partnership with the National Centre for Research Methods, we’ll play a key role in building research methods capacity in the UK.

  • Commission us

    We are Britain’s largest independent social research organisation with highly skilled and specialised research teams and with over 50 years of experience.

    If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch at
    new-business@natcen.ac.uk

    Fund a question on the NatCen Opinion Panel or the British Social Attitudes survey and understand what the British public thinks about the issues important to you.

    NatCen Opinion Panel

    Britain’s first probability-based online and telephone panel

    Running six times a year, our omnibus survey offers the chance to quickly gauge public opinion and behaviour using robust methods.

    British Social Attitudes

    The UK’s longest-running survey of public opinion

    Each year since 1983 we ask around 3,000 people what it's like to live in Britain and what they think about how Britain is run.