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Have you got a question about COVID-19?

Natasha Bance

Have you got a question about coronavirus (COVID-19)? So do we! In fact, we have a number of questions on COVID-19 across a breadth of topics from vaccinations and testing attitudes to social contact and self-isolation behaviours. That’s why we’re excited to launch the COVID-19 Question Bank which will act as a repository of questions asked by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) about the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find the COVID-19 Question Bank on the Government Statistical Service (GSS) harmonisation guidance webpages.

How did this start?

During the pandemic, the ONS had numerous requests from colleagues across government and other sectors for support with their COVID-19 questionnaire design. We realised that we could better support these requests if we had a single directory that housed all questions asked by the ONS relating to COVID-19. We (the Pandemic Research and Coordination Team within the ONS) set to work on the COVID-19 Question Bank to support this.

What can we use it for?

The COVID-19 Question Bank (xlsx 207KB) has been developed to provide a single place to access all questions asked by the ONS relating to COVID-19. The Question Bank has two aims:

  1. To provide a list of questions that can be used to improve harmonisation across surveys.
  2. To provide users with an understanding of what data ONS holds in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a single directory that stakeholders can select questions from for use on their own surveys, from what is quite frankly an enormous bank, seemed incredibly useful from the outset. This gives users the ability to align their questions with the ONS, meaning there is the potential for data and statistical comparisons to be made across government departments and beyond.

The COVID-19 Question Bank is not only useful for people creating surveys, but also for those who want to identify what data the ONS does (and doesn’t) hold relating to COVID-19. With this in mind, users can review the Question Bank and, where necessary, request statistics that are beneficial to their own research. This champions the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) strategy of producing and using Statistics for the Public Good.

Combined, both uses of the Question Bank can support continued, and future, research on the impact COVID-19 has had on our population.

How helpful has the COVID-19 Question Bank been for you?

As new starters within the Health Analysis and Pandemic Insights (HAPI) directorate, working on the COVID-19 Question Bank not only gave us an opportunity to engage with numerous stakeholders within the directorate and across the ONS, but also allowed us the chance to quickly learn of the amount of work the ONS has performed, and continues to perform, in relation to COVID-19.

We have built relationships with the teams working on the surveys used to develop the Question Bank, we are routinely involved in discussions surrounding the coordination of ONS surveys, and we have received growing interest in our progress: an indication of the usefulness of the tool.

We have thoroughly enjoyed taking on this fantastic project, which we know will have a positive impact on users working on the ever-important subject of COVID-19.

What success has emerged from creating the COVID-19 Question Bank?

Collaboration! Given that the Question Bank has been incredibly well received, a number of collaborative relationships across the ONS and other government departments have been strengthened. Collaborations internally have allowed for the creation of a centralised ONS product and, externally, such relationships have enabled greater reach and accessibility for the wider analytical community. We have also worked collaboratively with the GSS Harmonisation team in order to ensure that the resource is positioned in an easily accessible location for all analysts throughout the GSS to utilise.

What’s next?

The Question Bank will be updated each month, not only with new questions and surveys, but with adaptations to help the user experience. We ask anyone using the Question Bank to send feedback to Our aim is to continually develop the COVID-19 Question Bank to make sure it is meeting user needs.  One prospective idea is the creation of an interactive tool to allow easier filtering and search functions. Watch this space!

Bryony Dyssell and Jessica Atkins
Natasha Bance
Bryony Dyssell is a Research Officer and new starter at the ONS. On top of working on the COVID-19 Question Bank, she is also involved in collaborative projects relating to COVID-19 behaviours.

Jessica Atkins is a Senior Research Officer at the ONS. Jessica is currently working on ensuring that the latest COVID-19 research questions on behaviours are answered across the ONS, as well as promoting and coordinating the strategy of the COVID-19 Question Bank.