Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on wellbeing - survey findings

Findings from wave 4 of a telephone survey we commissioned to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people in Scotland


These findings are based on an Ipsos telephone survey of 1,006 adults in Scotland aged 16+, conducted 26th January – 11th February 2022. This was the fourth wave of the survey.

  • Wave 1 was conducted 27th April-3rd May 2020, during the initial lockdown (which began on 23rd March 2020).
  • Wave 2 was conducted 10th-16th December 2020, at which point different areas of Scotland were subject to different restrictions depending on their 'tier'.
  • Wave 3 was conducted 5th-12th March 2021, when the whole of Scotland was in Level 4 lockdown, albeit elements of a 'deliberately cautious' framework for moving out of lockdown had been announced by the First Minister on 23rd February 2021. The vaccination programme, which had only just started at the time of the December 2020 survey, was also well underway by March 2021.
  • Wave 4 took place shortly after a spike in cases as a result of the Omicron variant in late December 2021/early January 2022, but at a time when restrictions were again being eased – various restrictions, such as one-metre physical distancing in hospitality venues and attendance limits for indoor events were lifted from 24th January 2022. All adults in Scotland had also been offered two doses and a booster vaccine by this point.
Timings of the Covid-19 and wellbeing surveys and relevant milestones in Scotland's Covid-19 timeline
Timeline showing key dates and when the four survey waves took place


Questionnaire design

The questionnaire drew on earlier surveys conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Scottish Government in April/May 2020 (Wave 1), December 2020 (Wave 2) and March 2021 (Wave 3).

It also included a number of new questions that focused on the social impacts of COVID-19 including social cohesion, social contacts and relationships.


1,006 adults aged 16+ resident in Scotland were interviewed by telephone from 26th January – 11th February 2022.

Quotas were set based on gender, age, working status and Scottish parliamentary region. The data were also weighted to ensure the final sample was representative of the Scottish population as a whole.

Analysis and reporting

This report summarises key findings and statistically significant differences between sub-groups.

All samples have a margin of error around them. For a sample of around 1,000, this is +/- 3 percentage points. Findings based on sub-groups are subject to a wider margin of error.

Interpretation: Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of 'don't know' categories.

Key Findings

  • This is the fourth wave of a telephone survey commissioned by the Scottish Government and conducted by Ipsos Scotland to provide insight into the impacts of COVID-19 on wellbeing in Scotland.
  • Many of the inequalities observed in previous waves were again apparent – those in deprived areas, those on lower incomes, disabled people, and unpaid carers all fare worse across a number of measures.
  • While many of us feel we can recover quickly from adversity, those on low incomes and disabled people are more likely to find this difficult.
  • However, at a general population level, there are some more positive signs regarding wellbeing – compared with previous waves, fewer people said they felt they had less sense of purpose, felt cut off from family and friends, or were finding current social restrictions difficult to deal with.
  • Neighbourhood cohesion also remains high: the vast majority say that if they needed help, they could go to one of their neighbours. However, a third feel there are fewer places for planned and spontaneous socialising with others in their neighbourhood since the pandemic.



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