Rice researchers: Help us understand COVID-19’s impact

Participants sought for online surveys CovidSense.org and COVID-19 Registry

Two groups of Rice University researchers are asking for the public’s help to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing policies are impacting people’s lives, livelihoods and mental well-being.

Illustration for story about COVID-19 surveysThey’ve launched complementary online surveys — CovidSense.org and the COVID-19 Registry — that can be completed by smartphone in a matter of minutes. The surveys are designed to collectively provide a detailed picture of COVID-19’s impact on society. The aim is to gather data directly from people about how they and people in their households are being affected.

“For millions affected globally by COVID-19 — patients, caregivers, health care workers and everyone else stuck at home — mental well-being is now under threat,” said CovidSense Co-Principal Investigator Ashok Veeraraghavan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “We are asking people anywhere in the world to participate in this citizen science study to help us understand how COVID-19 is impacting lives. No app download is needed and no private info will be shared.”

CovidSense.org is taking a global approach, can completed from anywhere in the world and already has participants from more than 10 countries. The survey is multifaceted, with specialized questions for health care professionals, COVID-19 patients, COVID-19 caregivers and anyone who’s stuck at home. It’s also longitudinal, with follow-up questions every few days exploring how the impacts of social distancing and stay-at-home orders change over time. Participants can enroll and read more about the study at CovidSense.org. Researchers also said they will periodically share insights from the data on the website.

The COVID-19 Registry is built upon the Texas Flood Registry, a platform established in 2018 to measure the long-term health and housing impacts of Hurricane Harvey. Some 20,000 people have provided information to that registry, which was expanded in 2019 to include the impacts of Tropical Storm Imelda.

For the COVID-19 Registry, researchers hope to sign up new participants and gather information from those already in the Texas Flood Registry. The COVID-19 Registry will provide real-time information to help health departments in the Greater Houston region track the spread of the virus, and its economic and health impacts. The data will also help officials better understand the public’s response to COVID-19 policies and which sources of information are most effective for communicating those policies.

About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.