Australians are invited to participate in the world’s largest survey of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical and mental health, to generate new insights that can drive better health policies and investments.
With more than 80,000 participants across 137 countries, the rapidly growing Collaborative Outcomes Study of Health And Functioning During Infection Times (COH-FIT) has the power to reveal similarities and differences in how people are responding to the pandemic across the globe, and suggest how these may be influenced by age, gender, culture, rate of community transmission, pandemic restrictions, or other factors.
“We strongly encourage people to take half an hour out to complete this survey,” said Associate Professor Jackie Curtis, Director of Mindgardens Neuroscience Network, which is the Australian partner in the global collaboration. “The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive dislocations on an individual and societal level, and this can affect everyone’s physical and mental well-being – not only those who are most directly affected. COH-FIT can help us understand how children and adults are faring now, and where we should prioritise support in the near future based on the experience of countries at a different stage of their pandemic response.”
COH-FIT is collecting data about adults and children aged six and older, whose parents or carers can provide a brief rating of their kids as part of their own survey. Parents are also invited to consent online for their children or adolescents to fill out the survey online themselves (15-20 minutes for children, 30-35 minutes for adolescents).
Up to 20% of COH-FIT respondents are health care workers, allowing the scientists to analyse both the impact of caring for people with COVID-19 infection, and the particular concerns health workers face, for example from the fear of spreading the disease to their families. The questions are also structured to allow the researchers to distinguish between long-term physical and mental health conditions and those that have arisen in the context of the pandemic.
The COH-FIT project, which involves more than 200 researchers, is led by Professor Christoph Correll from the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in New York and Charite University Medicine in Berlin, and Professor Marco Solmi from the University of Padua in Italy. It is endorsed by the World Psychiatric Association and the European Psychiatric Association.
Professor Correll said the results could be used by governments to estimate the likely health impacts of specific pandemic strategies such as lockdowns and school closures, and help them understand how to invest effectively in strategies to mitigate these effects.
“The survey will let us look at region-specific approaches and resiliency factors across multiple cultures and countries,” said Professor Correll. “It allows for precision policy-making in the here and now. We are very pleased to partner with Mindgardens to include the experience of Australians in the shared global understanding that is coming out of COH-FIT.”
To take the survey go to: