The Irish Longitudinal study on Ageing (TILDA) COVID-19 Study, 2020


Study number (SN): 0074-00


TILDA. (2024). The Irish Longitudinal study on Ageing (TILDA) COVID-19 Study, 2020. [dataset]. Version 2. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN:0074-00.



TILDA collects information on all aspects of health, economic and social circumstances from adults aged 50 years and over resident in Ireland. Waves of data collection take place every two years. TILDA provides a comprehensive and accurate picture of the characteristics, needs and contributions of older persons in Ireland to inform and support improvements in policy and practice; advancements in technology and innovation; tailored education and training through an enhanced ageing research infrastructure; harmonisation with leading international research to ensure adoption of best policy and practice and comparability of results. TILDA is necessary to act as the foundation on which we can plan appropriate health, medical, social and economic policies for our older adults.

Participants were invited to complete the COVID-SCQ to capture their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. This data collection was planned in response to the pandemic and took place during the time when Wave 6 fieldwork was originally scheduled to take place.

The TILDA COVID-19 Study covers a range of aspects of the lives of adults aged 60 years and older during the first few months of the pandemic. As well as information on changes to normal day activities due to social-distancing and other restrictions on social interactions, we examine how these alterations to peoples’ lives have impacted on their physical and mental wellbeing. The study also records peoples’ exposure to the virus as well as that of their families and friends.

Funding organisation / source:

The Atlantic Philanthropies, Department of Health, Irish Life plc, Health Research Board under the Rapid Response Research and Innovation Fund.


  • COVID-19
  • Medical Care
  • Ageing
  • Health
  • Health Status
  • Lifestyle and Health
  • Information Sources
  • Social Participation
  • Lifestyle and Health
  • Preventative Medicine
  • Social Behaviour
  • Family
  • Social Support
  • Care of Older Adults
  • Income
  • Assets
  • Employment
  • Age Discrimination




TILDA is a nationally representative study of adults, resident in Ireland. At Wave 1 of TILDA, all participants were community-dwelling, however some participants have moved to nursing homes since then. A total of 5,819 SCQs were posted to TILDA respondents in July 2020. Data collection occurred from July 2020 to November 2020. 3,964 participants returned an SCQ, achieving a RR of 68% in a 5-month period.

Observation units

  • Individual
  • Families / Households

Temporal coverage

From 07/2020 to 11/2020

Time dimension

Cross-sectional one-time study : Cohort study

Geographical coverage

Country: Republic of Ireland

Methods of data collection

  • PAPI (Paper and Pencil Interviewing): Self-completion (distributed by post, email or other)

Sampling procedures

The original sampling method for TILDA is outlined below. TILDA started Wave 6 data collection in January 2020 but this was postponed due to the pandemic. For the COVID-SCQ, participants who were still eligible for re-contact in June 2020 (i.e. had not withdrawn, moved outside of the Republic of Ireland or passed away) were invited to participate.

An initial multi-stage sample of addresses was chosen by means of the RANSAM sampling procedure, which was developed by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) based on the Irish Geodirectory, a comprehensive listing/mapping of residential addresses in Ireland compiled by the Ordinance Survey Office.

Stage 1: RANSAM groups the residential addresses in the country into 3,155 first stage units or clusters. These clusters are townlands or aggregations of townlands and range in size from 500 to 1180 addresses. It was decided to select 640 of these clusters, with implicit proportionate stratification of clusters by socio-economic group (3 categories) and geography. Characteristics of the clusters can be inferred from the District Electoral Divisions of which they are a part, on the basis of the Small Area Population Statistics compiled by the Central Statistics Office. Stratification was achieved by pre-sorting all addresses in the country by socio-economic group (three equal groups on the basis of percentage of the population in the professional/managerial category) and within socio-economic group by RANSAM’s geographical “snake” pattern which orders clusters within county based on a north/south pattern which preserves contiguity. Clusters were selected randomly with a probability of selection proportional to the estimated number of persons aged 50 or over in each cluster.

Stage 2: This stage involved the selection of a probability sample of 50 addresses within each cluster (10 to be held in reserve). The combination of selection probabilities used at the two stages produces an equal probability (“epsem“) sample of addresses. All persons aged 50 or over in the selected households (and their spouses or partners of any age) were asked to participate. The addresses were partitioned into two groups: an initial sample list of 25,600 addresses (40 randomly selected from each of the 640 clusters) for immediate issue to the field force and 6,400 addresses (10 randomly selected from each of the 640 clusters) for retention as a reserve list. The reserve list would only be utilised later in the fieldwork process if it appeared unlikely that the target sample size would be achieved however this was not the case and the reserve list was not used.

As described, the sample design incorporates stratification, clustering and multi-stage selection. The design results in an equal probability sample of both households containing members of the target population and of persons in the target group. This means that the resulting sample is “epsem” and self-weighting, except for biases caused by non-random variations in response rates. Such biases were dealt with at analysis stage by means of calibration weights.

Response rate

A total of 5,819 SCQs were posted to TILDA respondents in July 2020. Data collection occurred from July 2020 to November 2020. 3,964 participants returned an SCQ, achieving a RR of 68% in a 5-month period.

Among the total TILDA cohort eligible (n=5819), 5,535 participants were aged 60 years and over. 3,677 of those aged 60 years and over responded, achieving a RR of 66% for this group which was previously reported on here:

Data from respondents who did not provide explicit consent to share their data on data archives were removed to meet GDPR and HRR requirements. Thus this dataset contains data from 3,773 respondents.

Copyright Statement

Copyright and all other intellectual property rights relating to the data, and any documentation concerning the collection of TILDA data, are vested in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing and Trinity College Dublin.



Data (available through ISSDA application process)

File name

File format/s

Contents of file



TILDA COVID-19 SCQ data, version 1



TILDA COVID-19 SCQ data, version 1


Documentation (available for download)

File name

File format/s

(preferably PDF)

Contents of file

0074-00_TILDA_COVID-19_SCQ_Questionnaire & ICF


TILDA COVID-19 SCQ Questionnaire



Details of actions taken to anonymise COVID SCQ data



TILDA COVID-19 SCQ Personal Information Leaflet



TILDA website:

Key findings report:


Accessing the data

To access the data, please complete a ISSDA Data Request Form for Research Purposes, sign it, and send it to ISSDA by email.

For teaching purposes, please complete the ISSDA Data Request Form for Teaching Purposes, and follow the procedures, as above. Teaching requests are approved on a once-off module/workshop basis. Subsequent occurrences of the module/workshop require a new teaching request form.

Data will be disseminated on receipt of a fully completed, signed form. Incomplete or unsigned forms will be returned to the data requester for completion.


Any work based in whole or part on resources provided by the ISSDA, should  acknowledge: “The Irish Longitudinal study on Ageing (TILDA) Wave 4, 2016" and also ISSDA, in the following way: “Accessed via the Irish Social Science Data Archive -”.

Citation requirement

The data and its creators shall be cited in all publications and presentations for which the data have been used. The bibliographic citation may be in the form suggested by the archive or in the form required by the publication.

Bibliographical citation

TILDA. (2024). The Irish Longitudinal study on Ageing (TILDA) COVID-19 Study, 2020. [dataset]. Version 2. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN:0074-00.


The user shall notify the Irish Social Science Data Archive of all publications where she or he has used the data.