Initial impacts of COVID-19 on sex life and relationship quality in steady relationships in Britain: findings from a large, quasi-representative survey (Natsal-COVID)

Mitchell, K. et al. (2022) Initial impacts of COVID-19 on sex life and relationship quality in steady relationships in Britain: findings from a large, quasi-representative survey (Natsal-COVID). Journal of Sex Research, (doi: 10.1080/00224499.2022.2035663) (PMID:35286182) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Intimate relationships are ubiquitous and exert a strong influence on health. Widespread disruption to them may impact wellbeing at a population level. We investigated the extent to which the first COVID-19 lockdown (March 2020) affected steady relationships in Britain. In total, 6,654 participants aged 18–59 years completed a web-panel survey (July–August 2020). Quasi-representativeness was achieved via quota sampling and weighting. We explored changes in sex life and relationship quality among participants in steady relationships (n = 4,271) by age, gender, and cohabitation status, and examined factors associated with deterioration to a lower-quality relationship. A total of 64.2% of participants were in a steady relationship (of whom 88.9% were cohabiting). A total of 22.1% perceived no change in their sex-life quality, and 59.5% no change in their relationship quality. Among those perceiving change, sex-life quality was more commonly reported to decrease and relationship quality to improve. There was significant variation by age; less often by gender or cohabitation. Overall, 10.6% reported sexual difficulties that started/worsened during lockdown. In total, 6.9% reported deterioration to a ”lower quality” relationship, more commonly those: aged 18–24 and aged 35–44; not living with partner (women only); and reporting depression/anxiety and decrease in sex-life quality. In conclusion, intimate relationship quality is yet another way in which COVID-19 has led to divergence in experience.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: The Natsal Resource, which is supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust(212931/Z/18/Z), 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 core funding from the United Kingdom Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00022/3) and the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU18).
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Kirstin and Bosó Pérez, Raquel and Riddell, Miss Julie and Shimonovich, Ms Michal
Authors: Mitchell, K., Shimonovich, M., Bosó Pérez, R., Dema, E., Clifton, S., Riddell, J., Copas, A. J., Tanton, C., Macdowell, W., Bonell, C., Sonnenberg, P., Mercer, C. H., and Field, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
University Services > Learning and Teaching Services Division
Journal Name:Journal of Sex Research
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:0022-4499
ISSN (Online):1559-8519
Published Online:14 March 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Sex Research 2022
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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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