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The Born in Bradford (BiB) COVID-19 research study An adaptive, mixed methods, longitudinal study of the impact of COVID-19 on health inequalities in families living in Bradford

About 2 mins to read
  • Led by Born in Bradford (BiB), based at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Research into changes in health, wellbeing and economic security throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in ethnically diverse families enrolled in existing BiB birth cohorts.
  • Worked with the local community to develop research priorities and carried out a series of surveys and qualitative interviews with families.  
  • Ran from February 2021 to January 2022.

Bradford is a large, multi-ethnic city, with high levels of poverty and ill health. This meant that there was a significant proportion of people in the city who were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Born in Bradford (BiB) is a research programme that is tracking the lives of over 30,000 people in the city to find out what influences the health and wellbeing of families. This research project by BiB aimed to understand better the effects of the pandemic on the health, wellbeing and economic security of ethnically diverse families, both in the short and long term.

Working closely with communities and partners, the research team established the key issues of concern and research priorities. To explore these in more detail, quantitative and qualitative information was collected from BiB cohort participants. 

The research found that lockdown measures did increase health inequalities, with families from deprived and ethnically diverse backgrounds most likely to be affected. 

Key findings included:

  • Mental ill health worsened for many during lockdown, particularly those who were lonely and economically insecure. 
  • For British Pakistani women living in Bradford, religion, community social capital and larger household structures helped to buffer the psychological distress caused by the pandemic. 
  • Families that were financially insecure pre-pandemic were more likely to report being worse off than before lockdown. 
  • There was a significant reduction in the number of children meeting physical activity recommendations during lockdown, compared to before the pandemic.
  • Trust in government, the health service and traditional media was negatively impacted by the avalanche of information about COVID-19, and this contributed to uncertainty about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The BiB COVID-19 Community Insights Group (CCIG) was created to support BiB in disseminating the research findings to the local community. 

The research findings were used to increase understanding of how the pandemic was impacting families in Bradford and resulted in regular webinars with teachers, a local mental health needs assessment, the establishment of a food strategy, and multi-agency responses to tackle misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy.


For more information about this project, please contact:

  • Professor Rosemary McEachan, Director of Born in Bradford, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Josie Dickerson, Director of the Better Start Bradford Innovation Hub and Bradford Inequalities Research Unit, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

More about the programme

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