Northern Ireland news

Impact of pandemic on over-50s in Northern Ireland explored by QUB researchers

More than 5,000 participants aged 50 and over in Northern Ireland will take part in the QUB study on the impact of the pandemic
Seanín Graham

RESEARCHERS from Queen’s University Belfast are embarking on a major new study to examine the impact of the pandemic on the over-50s in Northern Ireland.

More than 5,000 people are being assessed to discover how their lives have been affected over the past year, with data collated on health, psychological wellbeing, social activity, employment and financial circumstances.

Isolation experienced by those with underlying health conditions who were forced to shield will also explored as part of the Northern Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing (NICOLA), with its team based at the university's centre for public health.

Dr Charlotte Neville, the study's lead, said the initiative provides a unique opportunity for older adults to document their Covid experience.

"The repercussions of the pandemic are likely to be considerable and long-lasting and therefore it is important we collect this information now to understand the impact Covid-19 has had," she said.

"The findings will give health authorities, policymakers, researchers, and the public valuable insight into the effects of the pandemic and identify gaps in services for older adults in Northern Ireland..."

Information gathered will determine the full scale of the pandemic's impact on a wide number of outcomes including physical and mental health, caring responsibilities, health behaviours, social contact and loneliness.

Researchers also hope it will help inform future policy in relation to further outbreaks or the long-term consequences of the current outbreak.

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