Like many important aspects of health and wellbeing, sexual reproductive health (SRH) has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Measuring and monitoring SRH is crucial given the potential for drastic changes in people’s behaviours and in the delivery of SRH services.

The initial response to COVID-19 involved a rapid contraction of SRH services, with many halted (e.g asymptomatic STI testing) and only people with the severest symptoms seen face-to-face. During the first nationwide lockdown (from 23rd March 2020), UK citizens were effectively banned from intimate contact with anyone outside their household for a three-month period. The Natsal-COVID study aims to provide high-quality data to assess how these measures impacted sexual and reproductive health.

For further information about the study please contact Professor Nigel Field or Professor Kirstin Mitchell.



Web-panel survey

The Natsal-COVID study team has worked with Ipsos MORI to run two web-panel surveys. We used quota-based sampling and weighting with the aim of obtaining a quasi-representative sample of the British population.

Wave 1 was conducted in July 2020 and surveyed 6,500 people aged 18-59 years across Britain to capture data on sexual behaviour, sexual relationships and service use during the four months following the first national lockdown in March 2020.

Wave 2 was conducted from 27 March to 26 April 2021 and surveyed 6,500 participants aged 18-59 years one year after the start of the first UK lockdown with the aim to capture data on the longer-term impacts of the pandemic. Data were collected for key SRH outcomes, including chlamydia/HIV testing, pregnancy and abortion, and intimate partner violence. Wave 2 included 2000 individuals who also participated in Wave 1 to enable both longitudinal and cross-sectional comparisons.

Qualitative interviews

We carried out qualitative follow-up interviews with 45 survey participants who agreed to re-contact. Qualitative interviews were conducted with survey participants who reported:

  • sexual activity with someone in a different household during the first lockdown and subsequent restrictions
  • difficulties accessing  sexual and reproductive health services.
  • relational difficulties with their partner

By using quotas, we ensured variation by age, gender, ethnicity and region of Britain.

Read the published paper about the methodology of Natsal-COVID Wave 1 here, and of the Natsal-COVID Wave 2 paper here.

Please note that the survey weights described in the technical report have been subsequently updated. Please refer to the Natsal-COVID methods paper for information on final weighting.