Surveys, apps to track COVID-19

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers are using a variety of online surveys and smartphone apps to learn more about the coronavirus—who has it, what symptoms they have, where the disease hot spots are, whether the disease is affecting particular groups more than others, and whether social distancing measures are working. Here is a sampling of their work and information on how you can contribute to the research.

COVID Symptom Tracker logoCOVID Symptom Tracker

What it is: Free app with daily short survey

What it asks about: Age, gender, height and weight, zip code, possible exposure to others with COVID-19, health conditions, medications, daily symptoms, COVID-19 testing

What it does: Helps track the onset and progression of COVID-19 symptoms of millions across the U.S., with the goal of shedding light on the nature of the disease, identifying those at risk sooner, pinpointing virus hot spots, and helping slow the spread of disease

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, King’s College London, and Stanford University School of Medicine, in collaboration with the health science company ZOE

Harvard Chan School researchers: Andrew Chan, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

HowWeFeel logoHowWeFeel

What it is: Free app with daily short survey

What it asks about: Age, gender, zip code, health conditions, daily symptoms, COVID-19 testing, social distancing

What it does: Pinpoints COVID-19 hot spots, predicts areas that could soon see spikes in COVID-19 cases, sheds light on pertinent risk factors and demographic information, and allows health agencies to better respond to the pandemic

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Pinterest

Harvard Chan School researchers involved: Xihong Lin, professor of biostatistics; Jukka-Pekka Onnela, associate professor of biostatistics; Christine Tedijanto, PhD student in the Population Health Sciences program; and Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine Glimcher Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

COVID-19 Symptoms & Social Distancing Web Survey

What it is: Web survey

What it asks about: Demographic background, health, health status of other members of the household, potential COVID-19 symptoms, testing, social distancing behavior, work status

What it does: Gathers information on the prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms and social distancing behavior from the general U.S. population

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Program on the Global Demography of Aging and Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center

Harvard Chan School researchers involved: David E. Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography; David Canning, Richard Saltonstall Professor of Population Sciences, and Professor of Economics and International Health; and research manager Rashmi Dayalu

Global COVID-19 Survey

What it is: Web survey

What it asks about: Age, gender, country of residence, education level, testing, social distancing, knowledge about COVID-19, opinions on outbreak response, job status, mental health

What it does: Analyzes socio-behavioral aspects of outbreak control, such as social distancing measures, to help inform national, regional, and global health communication strategies and better inform response efforts

Collaborators: Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Harvard Chan School researchers involved: Phuong Pham, director of evaluation and implementation science at HHI, and Patrick Vinck, research director at HHI; both are assistant professors in the Department of Global Health and Population

Beiwe Screen ShotBeiwe

What it is: Beiwe is an open-source smartphone research platform that is used to collect active data (e.g. surveys) and passive data (e.g. GPS location) data from study participants. Researchers can customize all aspects of data collection as needed for their projects. Beiwe is used in more than 50 studies globally and is currently only available to people who are enrolled in existing clinical studies.

What it does: Beiwe applications for Android and iOS devices are used to enter active data (such as surveys) and collect various types of passive data depending on study settings (GPS for location sensing, accelerometer and gyroscope for characterizing physical activity, communication logs for learning about social networks, phone usage characteristics to learn about sleep, Bluetooth to learn about proximity to others, etc.). In one of our ongoing studies, supported by a 2018 Dean’s Fund for Scientific Advancement Award, we track Harvard juniors and seniors who have been sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of critical importance, our data collection started much before COVID-19, allowing a direct longitudinal assessment of the response of the students, including detailed day-to-day dynamics, to the COVID pandemic.

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and others.

Harvard Chan School researchers: Jukka-Pekka (JP) Onnela, associate professor of biostatistics and director of the Master’s Program in Health Data Science.

COVID-19 Signs and Symptoms Surveillance System – Behaviors and Inequities

What it is: Short web survey in English, Spanish, and other languages; may be filled daily

What it asks about: Age, gender, country of residence, socioeconomic level, race/ethnicity, disability, chronic conditions, signs and symptoms of COVID-19, testing, social distancing and connection, knowledge about COVID-19, mental health, food access/security, lifestyle behaviors

What it does: Identifies hot spots of signs and symptoms, vulnerable populations (including minorities such as Hispanics/Latinos), and behavioral and psychosocial factors influenced during the pandemic, to help prioritize response efforts and address inequities

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Puerto Rico Public Health Trust, Ponce Health Sciences University

Harvard Chan School researchers involved: Josiemer Mattei, Donald and Sue Pritzker Associate Professor of Nutrition, and Sabastien Haneuse, associate professor of biostatistics

Health and Wellbeing of Pregnant and Post-Partum Women During the COVID-19 Pandemic

What it is: Web survey

What it asks about: Demographic information, mental health

What it does: Assesses the wellbeing and mental health of pregnant and postpartum women during COVID-19

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Pregistry

Harvard Chan School researchers involved: Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, and Sonia Hernández-Díaz, professor of epidemiology

INdividuals Speak: Incarcerated During the COVID-19 Epidemic (INSIDE)

What it is: Short web-based survey ( less than 15 minutes) in English; may be filled by those who have recently been incarcerated or detained and released after March 1, 2020, or non-incarcerated individuals who have communicated with someone who is currently incarcerated.

What it asks about: This survey asks information about conditions of confinement such as the type of facility incarcerated in, ability to physical distance, ability to live in a clean environment, use of personal protective equipment, access to medical and mental health care, access to COVID-19 information, well-being, ability to stay in communication with family, friends or legal aid, and demographic background.

What it does: Gathers data about the experiences and the challenges incarcerated persons are facing during COVID-19. These data will be used to document human rights violations in U.S. carceral settings, and provide medical professionals, law professionals, and community advocates with the data needed to advocate for the needs of those who are incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collaborators: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Families for Justice as Healing, The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, Partakers Organization – College Behind Bars

Harvard Chan School researchers involved: Monik Jiménez, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology