Why do some people become ill from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while others do not? Where do people contract the virus? This and other risk factors for COVID-19 are being investigated by RIVM in collaboration with the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters (GGD-GHOR) in the CONTEST study.


Why this study?

Over the past year, we have learned more and more about the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. One of the ways that took place is via source and contact tracing. Yet it is not always clear where people contract the virus. It is also unclear why some people get COVID-19 and others do not. In addition, other factors may also increase the likelihood of infection, such as the family situation or type of profession. To learn more about this, RIVM wants to use the CONTEST study to compare people who test positive for COVID-19 with people who test negative. Survey-based research will be used for this purpose. In doing so, RIVM will scientifically identify the factors that increase or decrease the risk of infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

The CONTEST study also collects data on whether a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19.  By collecting the data, the researchers will be able to contribute to mapping the effect of the COVID-19 vaccination. RIVM is conducting this study among individuals who visit the GGD test lanes in the Netherlands. 


Who can take part in the study?

Everyone aged 18 years or older who visits one of the GGD test lanes in the Netherlands can participate in this study. People living in a care institution and/or people who have already received their COVID-19 test results cannot participate. 


How can I participate in the study?

When people make an appointment for a COVID-19 test in one of the test lanes, they receive a confirmation message via email. That email contains a link inviting them to take an online survey.
It is important to take the survey before the test result is received. 
In addition, RIVM requests permission to receive the laboratory results of the COVID-19 test. In this way, the answers to the questions of people who tested positive can be compared with those of people who tested negative.


What happens to the data and results?

RIVM processes the survey data and the laboratory results of the COVID-19 test. The data cannot be traced directly to a person. RIVM processes personal data in a legitimate, appropriate and transparent manner, in accordance with laws and regulations. Read more about how the RIVM handles your data within this study in the privacy statement (in Dutch only). In addition, RIVM has a general privacy statement. The results of the study will be taken into account by RIVM in its advice on efforts to control the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In addition, the results will be described in a scientific publication. 



Read our frequently asked questions and answers. Is your question not included in the FAQ? Then contact us. The researchers can be reached by email: CONTESTonderzoek@rivm.nl

Frequently asked questions

What happens in the event of a positive test result?

If the test indicates that you have COVID-19, the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) will contact you for additional information. They may ask questions that were already asked in the survey. The GGD does not have access to the survey responses. 

Why are people living in a care institution unable to participate?

People in a care institution are generally not tested through a GGD test lane but through the GP or at their location. Moreover, in a care institution, different risk factors play a role in the spread of COVID-19. 

Why does the survey need to be taken before the test result is received?

It is important for participants to complete the questionnaire as objectively as possible. If you know you have tested positive or negative for COVID-19, your survey answers may be different. For example, if you tested positive, you might think more carefully about where you might have become infected. 

I have already received my COVID-19 test results. What should I do?

If you have already received your COVID-19 test result, you will unfortunately be unable to participate in this study. 

The link to the survey does not work. What should I do?

You can find the link to the survey in the email from the GGD confirming your test appointment. Click on the link to go to the website where you can take the survey. You need to be online to access the survey, so check to make sure that you are connected to the internet. 

It is asking me for my COVID-19 Appointment Number. Where do I find that?

Your appointment number is stated in the confirmation email for your test appointment, below the bar code at the top of the email. 

Why do you need my email address?

After giving your consent, you can enter your email address. This email address will allow us to contact you for follow-up research regarding the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 over the next five years.

What about security?

The legal basis for the use of personal data is established in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is implemented in national law in the Netherlands in the Dutch GDPR Implementation Act (Uitvoeringswet Algemene Verordening gegevensbescherming). The CONTEST Corona Study is in compliance with all GDPR guidelines. We are making every effort to safeguard your privacy.

What about the security of Formdesk?

Formdesk has recently been tested extensively, and the system has been found to be secure.

How long will my data be retained?

After we have linked your survey data to your test result data, we will delete your COVID-19 Test Appointment Number. From that point on, the data cannot be traced directly to a person. This anonymised data is subject to an indefinite retention period. Email addresses are kept for five years.

I took the survey, but I do not want to participate in the study after all. Is that possible?

Yes, that is possible. You can view, correct and delete your completed survey data as long as it has not been linked to the laboratory results of your COVID-19 test. To do so, you can complete the document ‘Request form for data subjects’ (in Dutch only) and send it to us. In addition, we will need a copy of your ID. You can send both documents (the form and your ID) to the following email address: CONTESTonderzoek@rivm.nl. After the data is linked, your COVID-19 Test Appointment Number will be deleted immediately, so we will not be able to retrieve your survey. Therefore, we will also not be able to delete it.


The data you enter on the request form for data subjects will only be used to complete your request. We do so with all due care: after processing your request, your personal data from this form will be destroyed. 

Proof of identity, authorisation, and representation

You can only submit a request with respect to your own data. You may not submit a request for someone else. This is also the reason why we ask you for proof of identity. This way we can be sure that you are the person submitting the request, and not someone else. Exceptions to this rule are authorised persons and legal representatives. You can authorise someone else to submit a request on your behalf.