Leading civilian UK centre of excellence for military health research

In the UK, a nationwide lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020 in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This has raised many questions as to how people cope with extended periods of lockdown. Among young adults in particular, one in five are already thought to have symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a recent survey showed that younger people, especially young men, are more likely to find it difficult to cope with lockdown.

To help explore these issues, HeadSmart:Lockdown seeks to understand young adults’ attitudes towards coronavirus and lockdown, their behaviours and adherence to the measures in place, and possible longer-term physical and mental health consequences of lockdown. The specific aims of the study are:

  • To investigate changes in young adults’ wellbeing, behaviours and attitudes during and after lockdown;
  • To compare wellbeing, behaviours and attitudes among young adults based on socio-demographic characteristics, such as age, gender and ethnicity;
  • To compare wellbeing, behaviours and attitudes among young adults living in key worker and non-key worker households. A young adult is considered to belong to a ‘key worker household’ if any member of their current household (other than themselves) is fulfilling a key worker role.


To achieve the study aims, we are recruiting a cohort of young adults in the UK aged 18 to 24 years. Young adults will be invited to take part through advertisements on social media, and via direct emailing (where consent to contact is available from existing studies). Consent and eligibility will be screened via Qualtrics, after which participants will download the HeadSmart app.

Through the HeadSmart app, participants will complete a baseline questionnaire, and monthly follow-up questionnaires for 12 months. Questionnaires will assess wellbeing (including physical and mental health), isolation status, attitudes towards lockdown and Government guidance, household key worker status and socio-demographic information. Shorter fortnightly questionnaires will provide additional, more granular information for the first three months of the study. All participants will also be asked to consent for access to physical activity data recorded by Apple Health or Google Fit.

Following data collection, trajectory analyses will be conducted to investigate the study aims. To support the research community, data collected in this study will be released in pseudo-anonymised format.

Interested in taking part?

Aged 18-24 years? Own a smartphone? You may be eligible to take part in HeadSmart:Lockdown. See here for more information.

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