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New Questions on Census Bureau Survey Explore COVID Vaccine Attitudes, Mental Health, Telehealth Use

Jane Callen

Have people who received the COVID-19 vaccine stopped wearing masks or avoiding indoor events? Are they no longer social distancing?

Phase 3.1 of the Household Pulse Survey (HPS), the newest phase of the U.S. Census Bureau experimental survey, gauges whether people change their preventive behavior after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.

The hope is the survey will help shed light on vaccine hesitancy and inform public health efforts to persuade people to get vaccinated.

The latest survey includes 17 new questions and eight new topics. There were some content tweaks and deletions, too, but average response time remains 20 minutes.

It was sent to 1.04 million households April 14, generating 69,000 responses. Source and accuracy statements are available on the Household Pulse Survey Technical Documentation page.

First results are set to be released Wednesday and will be updated and released every two weeks after that until mid-July.

The hope is the survey will help shed light on vaccine hesitancy and inform public health efforts to persuade people to get vaccinated.

Phase 3.1

In addition to COVID-19 vaccines questions, the survey now also asks about these new topics:

  • U.S. Armed Forces service (active duty, reserve, or National Guard).
  • COVID prevention behaviors.
  • Work setting and essential worker occupations.
  • Telehealth use.
  • Children missing preventive health appointments due to COVID (and why).
  • Vision, hearing, memory and mobility disabilities.
  • Access of school-age children to food assistance.
  • COVID-related child care issues.

Vaccine questions were first added to the HPS in January as the U.S. ramped up vaccine distribution.

The survey’s new COVID-prevention behavior question asks:

“Since getting a COVID-19 vaccine, in general have you increased or decreased how often you practice COVID-19 prevention behaviors when in public around people you do not know?

Examples of prevention behaviors include wearing a face mask, maintaining six feet of distance from others, and avoiding indoor events and large gatherings.

Please answer even if you have not received all required doses of a vaccine.”

Answer options:

  • “I have decreased prevention behaviors since getting a vaccine.”
  • “I have not changed my behavior since getting a vaccine.”
  • “I have increased prevention behaviors since getting a vaccine.”

Prior Phases of the Household Pulse Survey

The Household Pulse Survey is a bi-weekly survey with phases that have run from 10 to 20 weeks since April 2020.  It is designed to deploy quickly and efficiently, collecting data to measure household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic.

Data are disseminated in near real time to inform federal and state response and recovery planning. The data collected enable the Census Bureau to produce statistics at the national and state levels and for the 15 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

The Household Pulse Survey’s first phase asked individuals about their employment status, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care and educational disruption.

Many of these questions were kept in the second and third phases to capture how experiences are changing as the pandemic continues.

The subsequent phases included additional questions on the application and receipt of benefits, spending patterns, and availability of financial resources, post-secondary education disruptions, capacity to telework, and travel practices.

Phase 3 of the Household Pulse Survey was extended from its original end date of Dec. 21, 2020, to March 31 of this year.

Among changes: the addition of questions about individuals’ intention to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, how people spent their federal stimulus payments and the removal of questions no longer relevant.

An interactive data tool will show indicators for Phase 3.1 and all previous phases, and our interactive vaccination visualization shows more details vaccination rates and vaccine hesitancy.

The Household Pulse Survey Questionnaires page on our website lists questions from all phases. The full list of Census Bureau partners is available on the main Household Pulse Survey page.

The HPS is sent to about a million households every two weeks. If selected, you will receive an email from COVID.survey@census.gov or a text message from 39242.

 

Jane Callen is senior writer/editor in the Census Bureau's Communications Directorate.

 

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