As people around the world deal with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, a new study is set to examine whether any positive lifestyle changes have been brought about by the lockdown.
The Chief Scientist Office funded project by researchers at the University of Strathclyde will examine any positive results in mental health and physical wellbeing brought about by social distancing and whether the lockdown has actually made us healthier.
Dr Lynn Williams, a senior lecturer in psychology, who is looking for 3,000 adult volunteers for the CATALYST online survey about lifestyles and relationships, pre and post pandemic, said: “There is some really important research going on into the negative consequences of the pandemic on mental health, but in this study we want to capture what might have changed for the better and whether social distancing has encouraged us to adopt and maintain any positive changes.
“One of the things we’re looking at is physical activity levels and whether people have increased the amount they are getting.
“We’re also looking at relationships, and if there have actually been improvements for some people in terms of relationships with friends and family. We will also examine coping styles and resilience levels – has there been a change in those since lockdown?
“We will also focus on sleep and whether sleeping patterns have changed.”
Participants will be asked to complete an online questionnaire for the project, with a similar survey to be completed in two months’ time. A smaller group of 50 will also be asked to take part in a more in-depth online interview.
Dr Williams added: “In the first study we will ask participants to look back on their behaviour before social distancing and their behaviour now. Then the follow-up survey in two months’ time will give us another measure of their behaviour at that point. We are doing this to see if the changes that people have been made can be maintained over time.
“We are also doing an in depth qualitative study where we will interview a particular group of those who have experienced the most positive changes to try and figure out how they’ve done that and what learning we can share with other people that might help them to initiate some of those positive changes.”
Once the data is collected, Dr Williams will work with other organisations and charities to disseminate the results and co-produce resources, such as a positive change toolkit.
More details and the study link can be found here.
The study is among a range of Strathclyde-led projects to have received Scottish Government funding following a Rapid Research in COVID-19 call for bids by the Chief Scientist Office, including the development of a low cost, rapid, high-throughput COVID-19 assay for isolation/back-to-work decisions for key workers.