Methodology of Natsal-COVID Wave 1: a large, quasi-representative survey with qualitative follow-up measuring the impact of COVID-19 on sexual and reproductive health in Britain

Dema, E. et al. (2022) Methodology of Natsal-COVID Wave 1: a large, quasi-representative survey with qualitative follow-up measuring the impact of COVID-19 on sexual and reproductive health in Britain. Wellcome Open Research, 6, 209. (doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16963.2)

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Abstract

Background: Britain’s National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) have been undertaken decennially since 1990 and provide a key data source underpinning sexual and reproductive health (SRH) policy. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many aspects of sexual lifestyles, triggering an urgent need for population-level data on sexual behaviour, relationships, and service use at a time when gold-standard in-person, household-based surveys with probability sampling were not feasible. We designed the Natsal-COVID study to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s SRH and assessed the sample representativeness. Methods: Natsal-COVID Wave 1 data collection was conducted four months (29/7-10/8/2020) after the announcement of Britain’s first national lockdown (23/03/2020). This was an online web-panel survey administered by survey research company, Ipsos MORI. Eligible participants were resident in Britain, aged 18-59 years, and the sample included a boost of those aged 18-29. Questions covered participants’ sexual behaviour, relationships, and SRH service use. Quotas and weighting were used to achieve a quasi-representative sample of the British general population. Participants meeting criteria of interest and agreeing to recontact were selected for qualitative follow-up interviews. Comparisons were made with contemporaneous national probability surveys and Natsal-3 (2010-12) to understand bias. Results: 6,654 participants completed the survey and 45 completed follow-up interviews. The weighted Natsal-COVID sample was similar to the general population in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, rurality, and, among sexually-active participants, numbers of sexual partners in the past year. However, the sample was more educated, contained more sexually-inexperienced people, and included more people in poorer health. Conclusions: Natsal-COVID Wave 1 rapidly collected quasi-representative population data to enable evaluation of the early population-level impact of COVID-19 and lockdown measures on SRH in Britain and inform policy. Although sampling was less representative than the decennial Natsals, Natsal-COVID will complement national surveillance data and Natsal-4 (planned for 2022).

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Version 2; peer review: 2 approved. Natsal is a collaboration between University College London (UCL), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the University of Glasgow, Örebro University Hospital, and NatCen Social Research. The Natsal Resource, which is supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust (212931, https://doi.org/10.35802/212931), with contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), supports the Natsal-COVID study in addition to funding from the UCL COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (Core funding, MC_UU_00022/3; SPHSU18).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Kirstin and Bosó Pérez, Raquel and Riddell, Miss Julie
Creator Roles:
Riddell, J.Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Validation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Boso Perez, R.Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Validation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Mitchell, K. R.Conceptualization, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Supervision, Validation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Dema, E., Copas, A. J., Clifton, S., Connolly, A., Blake, M., Riddell, J., Boso Perez, R., Tanton, C., Bonell, C., Sonnenberg, P., Mercer, C. H., Mitchell, K. R., and Field, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Wellcome Open Research
Publisher:F1000Research
ISSN:2398-502X
ISSN (Online):2398-502X
Published Online:16 August 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Dema et al.
First Published:First published in Wellcome Open Research 6: 209
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellChief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU18HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit