Project Summary

PCORI has identified COVID-19 as an important research topic. Patients, clinicians, and others want to learn: What are effective ways to prevent or reduce the impact of COVID-19, especially on vulnerable populations and the healthcare workforce? To help answer this question, PCORI launched an initiative in 2020 to Strengthen Understanding of COVID-19 Impact and Inform Healthcare Responses. The initiative funded this research project and others.

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

COVID-19 is a viral disease that can be mild or severe. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, state and local governments have put public health policies in place. For example, some policies require people to wear masks in public. Other policies require people to shelter in place, staying at home and leaving only if necessary.

In this study, the research team is looking at how different COVID-19 policies affect outcomes that are important to patients, such as financial security or mental health. The team also wants to learn how these policies affect access to resources, such as testing for COVID-19. Finally, the team is looking at ways to predict risk of people getting COVID-19.

Who can this research help?

Results may help policy makers when deciding how to address COVID-19.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling more than 20,000 people in seven states. Participants use a COVID-19 tracking app to report on COVID-19 symptoms each day. They also use the app to answer questions each week about their COVID-19 risk behaviors, such as eating inside restaurants and going to large gatherings. Once a month, people answer questions in the app about their health and their mental and financial well-being. The team is looking at data from electronic health records and insurance claims to learn if patients had COVID-19 testing and healthcare visits related to COVID-19 infections. The team is comparing how policies in different states and counties affect these outcomes.

The research team is also comparing how well different statistical models predict people’s likelihood of getting a severe COVID-19 infection. The team is looking at these outcomes overall and among specific groups, such as African-American and Hispanic patients.

Patients and policy makers are helping to plan and conduct the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Observational: cohort study

More than 100,000 people using a COVID-19 tracking app in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah 

Interventions/ Comparators

Restrictive versus permissive policies for social distancing and reopening schools and businesses; resource allocation that provides access to testing and vaccination and other containment and mitigation strategies 


Primary: patient-reported financial insecurity, mental health

Secondary: access to COVID-19 testing, health care, information on COVID-19, and contact tracing; accuracy of algorithm used to predict COVID-19 infection and severe COVID-19 within 6 weeks of symptom onset


Up to 24-month follow-up for primary outcomes

Project Information

Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH
Tom Carton, PhD
The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco
Comparing Patient-Reported Impact of COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Policies and Access to Containment and Mitigation Strategies, Overall and in Vulnerable Populations

Key Dates

October 2023


Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 24, 2024