The COH-FIT project is currently the largest survey worldwide on the health impact of COVID-19 and is endorsed by the World Psychiatric Association. The study aims to identify risk and protective factors for physical and mental health problems and to guide strategies for remedying these problems. The COH-FIT project involves 200 researchers from 35 countries, including Bristol, aims to help scientists understand how different countries have been affected by the pandemic.
The COH-FIT (Collaborative Outcomes study on Health and Functioning during Infection Times) is an online survey project to identify risk and protective factors that will inform prevention and intervention programmes for the COVID-19 pandemic, and if other pandemics occur in the future. The study, led by clinicians Professor Christoph Correll from the US and Dr Marco Solmi from Italy, aims to collect data from around 100,000 participants.
To date, around 58,000 people across 129 countries have completed the online survey, which aims to measure the impact of the virus over an 18-month period by collecting data on a range of issues that could affect peoples’ mental and physical wellbeing, including access to open space, care and coping strategies. Currently, there are not enough responders from the UK. The COH-FIT team would like as many people from the UK as possible to complete the survey so that we can get an accurate picture of how the pandemic is affecting the UK population specifically. The data will help researchers assess how people have been feeling in the last two weeks and how they felt within the two weeks before the pandemic.
The survey will be conducted in three stages, the first of which will take place during the current wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be followed by further surveys at six and twelve months after the end of the pandemic (as per WHO estimates).
Dr Sarah Sullivan, one of the study’s collaborators from Bristol Medical School, explains about Bristol’s role in the study: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a mass traumatic event for many people who have been deeply affected through the effects of social isolation, anxiety, worries about job or finances, grief and health. Our immediate aim is to see who has been affected most by the virus and help identify the effects and factors influencing the impact of the COVID-19 so we can learn how to provide the appropriate support in the future. In Bristol, our specific interest is whether the pandemic will result in more people reporting serious mental health problems such as psychosis.”
The findings from the study will help inform international health policy once the pandemic has ended and will include a series of recommendations including the actions required to help those particularly at high risk and likely to be most affected should future pandemics arise.
The survey is open to anyone interested in taking part in the study, it is available at: www.coh-fit.com.