Impact of ‘Covid-19 fear’ on over-50s examined

A new study has been launched to consider how the fear of coronavirus has impacted the lives of people aged over 50.

Elaine Douglas, a lecturer in global ageing at the University of Stirling, has been awarded £712,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s response to the virus.

She will use the funding for an 18-month study, called “The impact of Covid-19 Fear: evidence to inform social, health and economic recovery”.

It is said to be the first study of its kind to measure the extent of how Covid has impacted everyday lives.

Ms Douglas said: “Covid-19 has affected the way in which people connect, look after their health, work and spend.

“However, little is known about the role that Covid-19 fear plays in how people go about their everyday lives, particularly among older people, who are arguably most vulnerable to poor outcomes.

“Our research will look at how people re-engage with society over the year ahead and provide insights for policy and public health messages.”

Surveying people aged 50 and over in Scotland, the study will establish how the pandemic is influencing decisions to socialise, visit family and attend medical appointments.

It is part of a new wave of the Healthy Ageing in Scotland study, set up by Ms Douglas and economist Professor David Bell.

Elaine Douglas
Elaine Douglas

The pair will work on the project alongside other social science and health psychologist colleagues at the university, with initial data due to be published this summer.

Ms Douglas added: “This research will provide insight into how people can be supported back into everyday activities.

“It will provide important information for the NHS on how to support those with Covid-19 fear to attend hospital appointments, cancer screenings or other health-related appointments.

“It will also give an idea of people’s willingness to return to the ‘physical’ workplace, to go shopping again, or to meet friends in restaurants.

“These activities are significant for our individual wellbeing as well as our economic recovery.”