The third quarterly round of the Health Research for COVID-19 study took place in March 2022. In this study, the GOR Network researches the health effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The first survey among adults shows that they feel generally healthy and do not experience more mental health problems than they did before the COVID-19 crisis.

The Network for Health Research in Disasters (GOR Network) publishes a quarterly update on this page, summarising key results from survey research and data from primary care providers. The aim is to provide information to municipalities, provinces and the national government of the Netherlands to assist them in formulating policies.

Summary of research round 3

Round 3 is the first time that adults (aged 26 years and over) were also included in the survey-based research. In the two previous research rounds, the study focused exclusively on young people. This is a summary of key results from research among adults.

Adults are relatively healthy

The research round in March 2022 shows that adults are doing relatively well compared to young people. Three-quarters of the adults surveyed (76%) reported feeling that they were in good or very good general health, while 4% indicated that they were in poor or very poor health. The majority of the adults had no mental health problems (76%) and were not feeling lonely (52%). In addition, half of the adults (48%) were neutral about the impact of the coronavirus measures on their lives. One in five adults (21%) was even positive or very positive. Half of the adults (49%) reported having no physical symptoms, while 51% said they often or very often had 1 or more physical symptoms. They mostly mentioned tiredness (29%), muscle or joint complaints (22%) and sleep disturbance (18%).

More GP visits for tiredness

Primary care data shows that the number of adults who visited the GP for tiredness has increased significantly in the first months of 2022 compared to the end of last year: there were 37% more GP visits in March 2022 than in December 2021. Compared to 2019, however, the number of GP visits related to tiredness was quite normal. In 2022, the number of complaints involving heart palpitations and concentration problems was higher than normal in January and part of February, but returned to normal in March.

Furthermore, it turned out that older adults (aged 75 years and over) visited the GP more often, mostly for memory and concentration problems, dizziness, shortness of breath, and sleep disturbance, but also for heart disease and nausea.

Younger age group has more mental health problems

In contrast, adults in the younger age group (25-44 years) were more likely to visit their GP for mental health problems, such as feelings of depression and stress. This corresponds with the results from youth research (young people aged 12–25 years).

Situation during the research round

The research round in March 2022 looked at the period from December 2021 to February 2022. The primary care data covers GP visits from January 2022 to March 2022. During this period, there was a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant and a lockdown was in effect from mid-December to the end of January.

Approach used in the quarterly study among adults

The quarterly study is based on survey-based research and GP records. In March 2022, a total of 7,840 adults (aged 26 years and older) completed a survey on their mental and physical health. In addition, we looked at the data provided by GPs (in the primary care database maintained by Nivel – the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research). GPs keep track of the symptoms and health conditions of the people visiting their practice. The data comes from about 380 GP practices, offering healthcare services to roughly 1.6 million registered patients (9% of the Dutch population). We look at differences in age group, gender and province.

Upcoming and previous research rounds

The surveys for round 4 were completed between 27 May 2022 and 12 June 2022. Previous research rounds among young people were conducted in December 2021 and September 2021.