QUB researchers investigate impact of Covid-19 on older people
Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast are studying how people aged 50 years and older across Northern Ireland have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of their health, psychological wellbeing, social activity, employment and financial circumstances.
The team working on the Northern Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA), from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University are analysing data from 5,000 of its participants aged 50 years and over living in Northern Ireland.
Dr Charlotte Neville, NICOLA’s scientific officer and senior research fellow from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University and researcher on the study, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging period worldwide and has impacted us all in some way across Northern Ireland, especially the lives of older people.
“This research provides a unique opportunity for older adults from across Northern Ireland to document their experience during the period of the pandemic.
“The repercussions of the pandemic are likely to be considerable and long-lasting and therefore it is important we collect this information now to understand the impact COVID-19 has had.”
Dr Neville added: “The findings will give health authorities, policymakers, researchers, and the public valuable insight into the effects of the pandemic and identify gaps in services for older adults in Northern Ireland in response to the impact of COVID-19.”
To gather their results, a questionnaire has been posted to a nationally representative sample of over 5,000 older adults who are currently participants in the NICOLA study.
The questionnaire will capture information about the effect of the pandemic and public health measures on physical, psychological and mental health, work and financial circumstances, computer and internet use, caring responsibilities, social connections, loneliness, health and social care, and health behaviours during the period of COVID-19.
The information will allow the researchers to compare information collected during the pandemic with that collected prior to the pandemic thus helping them to understand early risks and determinants of susceptibility to the outcomes of COVID-19.
The research aims to help and support both local and national health systems and policymakers to strengthen and improve the national response to COVID-19 in the longer term and will help inform future policy in relation to further outbreaks or the long-term consequences of the current outbreak.