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Public attitudes to coronavirus: November update

This report presents findings from polling work, conducted between March and August 2021, on public attitudes to the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland.

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2. Wellbeing

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to have a wide range of impacts on personal wellbeing. This section presents data about the impacts of the pandemic on feelings such as happiness, loneliness, optimism, and anxiety.

Levels of loneliness, anxiety and happiness

To understand social isolation, respondents were asked how much of the time during the past week they had felt lonely. As shown in Figure 5, the proportion who felt lonely at least some of the time has remained fairly stable from March through August at around half (between 46% and 52%) of respondents.

Figure 5: How often respondents felt lonely during the past week
Bar chart showing around half of respondents consistently felt lonely at least some of the time.

Source: YouGov Scotland survey. Base: Adults (n=1001-1028)

The survey also included two of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) wellbeing questions to measure levels of anxiety and happiness. Respondents were asked how anxious, and how happy, they felt ‘yesterday’, on a scale of 0 to 10. As shown in Figure 6, over one third of respondents (33% to 37%) consistently reported ‘high’ anxiety (score of 6-10). The numbers of respondents with ‘high’ anxiety remain higher than pre-pandemic measures (23% of the population in Scotland) [5] but lower than the high levels (60%) reported at the beginning of the first national lockdown [6].

Figure 6: How anxious respondents felt yesterday on a scale of 0-10
Bar chart showing 33% to 37% reported ‘high’ anxiety.

Source: YouGov Scotland survey. Base: Adults (n=1001-1028)

Respondents have remained worried about the Coronavirus situation throughout this period. As shown in Figure 7, worry was highest at the beginning of March, with just under 6 in 10 (58%) respondents agreeing that they felt worried about the Coronavirus situation, and has since varied between 46% and 57%. At 24-25 August, over half (54%) of respondents remained worried about the Coronavirus situation.

Figure 7: Proportions who agreed/disagreed with the statement ‘I feel worried about the Coronavirus situation’
Bar chart showing that worry has varied between 46% and 58%, with worry at the highest at the beginning of March.

Source: YouGov Scotland Survey. Base: Adults (n=807-1063)

As shown in Figure 8, on 2-3 March, just over one in five (21%) respondents reported ‘low’ happiness (score of 0-4). This declined slightly over subsequent polling and by August (10-11), 16% felt low levels of happiness (score of 0-4).

Figure 8: How happy respondents felt yesterday on a scale of 0-10
Bar chart showing that from 2-3 March to 10-11 August there was a small increase in respondents reporting very high happiness (from 12% to 18%), and a small decrease in those reporting low happiness (from 21% to 16%).

Source: YouGov Scotland survey. Base: Adults (n=1001-1023)

Coping and Optimism

Overall the majority of respondents have agreed that they are coping okay during the current Coronavirus situation. From 17-18 March through to 27-28 July this ranged between 65% and 75%.

Figure 9: Proportion who agreed with the statement ‘I am coping okay during the current Coronavirus situation’
Bar chart showing relatively stable agreement, between 65% to 75%.

Source: YouGov Scotland survey. Base: Adults (n=980-1028)

Respondents were asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement ‘I’m sure that things will start to get better soon’. As shown in Figure 10, levels of optimism fluctuated between March and August. From March to the beginning of June, over half of respondents (between 53% and 63%) either tended to or strongly agreed that things would start to get better soon. From mid-June onwards, these figures had fallen to under 50%. By the end of August (August 24-25), only 36% of respondents agreed they were sure that things would start to get better soon.

Figure 10: Proportion who agreed with the statement ‘I’m sure that things will get better soon’
Bar chart showing agreement fluctuated with a fall from 56% on 2-3 March to 36% by 24-25 August.

Source: YouGov Scotland survey. Base: Adults (n=807-1063)

Mental Health

Respondents were asked about whether they were worried about the effect of lockdown and restrictions on their mental health. In March polling, when ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions were still in place, 2 in 10 respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that they were worried about the impact of lockdown on their mental health. Between April and June, 12% to 16% of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that they were worried about the effect of ongoing restrictions on their mental health. By August (10/11), 12% ‘strongly agreed’.

Figure 11: Proportion who agreed/disagreed with statements about being worried about the effect of the ongoing pandemic on their mental health [7]
Bar chart showing that on 9-10 March 48% agreed, this declined to 37% at 10-11 August.

Source: YouGov Scotland survey. Base: Adults (n=807-1063)

Contact

Email: covid-19.behaviours@gov.scot

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