The COVID-19 health surveys are a series of cross-sectional surveys that aim at monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of the general population in Belgium. The first survey was launched about 3 weeks after the start of the crisis and the last one in December 2021. Various topics have been examined including the impact of the crisis on mental and social health, the changes in health related behaviours, attitudes towards vaccination, domestic violence, employment, etc… Since January 2022, these cross-sectional surveys have evolved into a cohort study. The findings of this survey have been extensively disseminated to the media and policy-makers.
To assess the impact of the pandemic on the health and well-being of the general population in Belgium, the COVID-19 health surveys were launched early in the pandemic. Given the need to collect information as soon as possible, data collection was conducted on-line. The launch of the surveys was announced in the press as well as on the website and social media of Sciensano and of other organizations (health insurance organizations, community centers…). Participation was based on snowball sampling, in the sense that respondents were asked to share the link to the survey with their family, friends and acquaintances residing in Belgium and aged 18 years and older. Participation to the survey ranged from 40.000 to 20.000, depending on the wave. The survey addressed a wide range of topics, including: mental and social health, attitudes towards vaccination, changes in health-related behaviours, domestic violence, employment, and factors closely related to the management of the crisis such as respect of hygiene measures, knowledge about the virus or trust in authorities.
Since the participation to the survey was unequally distributed among population groups (predominantly females, high educated, Flemish), all the results were weighted in order to enhance the representativity of the estimates and to reflect the status of the adult population (18+) in Belgium. Preliminary results were published in 9 reports widely disseminated to the media and policy-makers.
In each survey, the participants were asked if they agree to be re-contacted for the next survey. Participation in several COVID-19 surveys allows to conduct longitudinal analysis w a subset of participants and is core for the construction of a cohort that started in January 2022 and this for a period of 30 months.