A study evaluates the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on well-being

The national survey should make it possible to help the population in new crises. @ iStock

The national survey should make it possible to help the population in new crises. @ iStock

A new nationwide study being conducted jointly by EPFL, the Idiap Research Institute and the University of Lausanne (UNIL) aims to understand the emotional effects of the lockdown on Swiss residents and what steps they are taking to cope with it. The findings will be used to develop better support strategies for the future.

Being required to stay at home most of the day and night is prompting people across Switzerland to change their daily routines. Which changes are the most difficult? Which routines will they keep once the lockdown is over? Which people are suffering most from this unprecedented situation? In order to better understand how Swiss residents are coping with the lockdown, researchers from EPFL, Idiap and UNIL have created an online survey available in English, French, Italian and German.

In addition to asking a series of questions, the survey displays emergency phone numbers, options for online chats and links to useful websites and videos in order to provide support resources to people who are distressed, bored or suffering from domestic violence. The survey results will be used to identify the inequalities that are arising in the face of the pandemic and to develop coordinated and collaborative strategies to avoid them in the future, should a similar situation arise.

The survey takes around 15 minutes and is designed to get a better idea of what types of housing and living conditions make people more mentally resilient – or susceptible – to the lockdown. For instance, are women taking on more of the household chores and childcare responsibilities? If so, to what extent, under what conditions and predominantly in which areas of Switzerland? Which people feel loneliest? Which people are the least informed about existing support networks?

Citizen science

At the end of the survey, participants can leave their email address if they would like to use a new application called Civique App (available on iPhone and Android). The app will enable them to report on how they are adapting week after week by sending in text messages, remarks from friends and family, and photos of individual spaces serving as home office, gym and school at the same time. The developers are using the app to create citizen research groups. By leaving their email address, participants will also have the option of scheduling a video conference where they can discuss their feelings, situation and coping mechanisms in more detail with a psychosociological expert. Once all the data are collected – on people’s emotions, creative ways of adapting and overall experience – they will provide policymakers with valuable information on Swiss residents’ basic needs and how emergency response measures can be better targeted, whether in the short-term for this crisis or to help anticipate future ones.

Interdisciplinary cooperation

The researchers taking part in this cross-disciplinary initiative are Claudia Binder, a full professor at EPFL and head of EPFL’s Laboratory on Human-Environment Relations in Urban Systems (HERUS); Ulli Vilsmaier, a visiting professor at HERUS; Livia Fritz, a post-doc researcher at HERUS; Anna Pagani, a PhD student at HERUS; Daniel Gatica-Perez, an adjunct professor at Idiap and at EPFL’s Digital Humanities Institute; Vincent Kaufmann, associate professor and head of EPFL’s Urban Sociology Laboratory (LASUR); Laurie Daffe and Garance Clément, post-doc researchers at LASUR; and Marie Santiago Delefosse, a full professor at UNIL’s Institute of Psychology.


For English and German
Claudia Binder, full professor, EPFL; Tel.: +41 21 693 93 62; Email: [email protected]

For English and French
Marie Santiago Delefosse, full professor, UNIL; Tel.: +41 21 692 31 11; Email: [email protected]
Vincent Kaufmann, associate professor, EPFL; Tel.: +41 21 693 62 29; Email: [email protected]