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What is the aim of KCL CHECK?

KCL CHECK stands for King’s College London & Coronavirus (COVID-19): Health and Experiences of Colleagues at King’s. The main aim of the study is to assess the impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic on the short- and long-term health and wellbeing outcomes of KCL staff and postgraduate research students. This includes physical health, mental health, personal experiences with coronavirus, and resulting work and lifestyle changes. Additionally, we aim to identify, in as close to real time as possible, individuals who have symptoms of coronavirus. The results will feed into KCL strategy to better support staff and students over the course of the pandemic and beyond.

How do I take part?

If you have received an email inviting you to take part, follow the link to the survey in that email. You can also contact the team for a new link.

What will the study involve?

If you would like to take part in this study, you will be asked to fill in an online consent form and given a link to an online survey. The study has three components. You will complete the online survey component as soon as you sign up to the study, and will then have the option to complete the longitudinal study and the virology module:

  1. The online survey: Collects information on demographics, occupational data, family, social networks, physical and mental health, and impacts of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic on various domains of life. The survey takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, but may be longer for people who have been more affected.
  2. The longitudinal study: Sends you emails/text messages reminding you to complete shorter two-monthly and fortnightly surveys. This is essential to get an accurate picture of how the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic impacts you in the long-term. The fortnightly survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.
  3. The virology module: Sends you a coronavirus home testing kit. For testing, you will be asked to supply a blood droplet on the Test Cassette, which will indicate your result within 10 minutes. We will ask you to provide us with the result of your test.

You can find more information in our Participant Information Sheet.

I completed the questionnaire for this study but have been asked to complete it again. Why do I need to do it multiple times?

The situation with coronavirus is constantly developing, and may have long-lasting effects over many months. We are therefore asking participants to complete questionnaires at multiple timepoints to help us assess changes over time as the situation develops. As it is currently unclear how long the current situation will last, an anticipated study duration of 18 months is being proposed. This will be shortened or extended depending on the UK government guidance regarding social distancing.

Why do you need to ask questions about my mental health, and about my personal life?

We are interested in learning about a variety of potential problems that the KCL community may be experiencing during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Therefore, questions about your mental health, personal life and working life have been included, as we believe these are important areas that may be affected by current circumstances. If you do not wish to answer certain questions or feel uncomfortable in doing so, please feel free to skip them.

Who is being asked to take part?

We are inviting KCL staff members and postgraduate research students to take part in KCL CHECK. It is important that we hear from as many people as possible, to ensure that our findings are valid and useful.

I have been contacted about taking part in this study. How did you get my contact details?

Eligible participants have been identified via the KCL HR system and postgraduate research student system. We have used existing, dedicated mailing lists for KCL staff and postgraduate research students to introduce the study and invite people to take part. The study has also been advertised via other existing KCL internal mailing lists, such as circulars.

Who is on the research team?

The research team includes various junior and senior members of staff and students at KCL. They are from a combination of research and clinical backgrounds and are led by our Chief Investigators Professor Matthew Hotopf and Professor Reza Razavi. You can read more about our Chief Investigators here.

I know someone on the research team. Should that influence my decision to participate?

The research team consists of people who work or study at KCL, so it is inevitable that some participants will have an existing professional relationship with members of the research team. As with everyone else who has been invited to take part, you are very welcome to participate in the study, but are also under no obligation to do so. Only pseudonymised data will be available to most members of the research team for analysis purposes.

Some of my friends and family want to take part. Can I send them the survey?

This study is for KCL staff members and postgraduate research students only. The people invited to take part have been selected because they are current KCL staff members and postgraduate research students. We can only include people who have been selected to take part.

I have not had coronavirus. Is this study still relevant to me?

Yes, we want to hear from people who have not had any direct experience of coronavirus, as well as from people who have been, or still are, unwell with the virus. It is important for us to hear from a range of people, irrespective of whether or not they feel like they have been impacted by coronavirus. This will help us to understand how the KCL community as a whole is experiencing the pandemic.

Is the study voluntary?

Yes, the study is completely voluntary. You are under no obligation to take part and no one except the immediate study team will know who does and does not participate. However, for the findings to be valid and useful we need to have as many responses as possible, so please consider contributing.

How is the project being funded?

The research is organised and funded by King’s College London.

Will the information I provide be confidential?

Your data will be processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All of the data collected as part of this project will be regarded as strictly confidential and will be held securely until the research is finished. All data for analysis will be anonymised. In reporting on the research findings, we will not reveal the names of any participants. All research staff are provided with training regarding GDPR and KCL standards for handling data. Any data provided electronically will be stored on a database on a restricted server only accessible by specified members of the research team who have been given authorisation to access the database.

No study data will be available in any identifiable format to anyone outside of the immediate research team, such that those in authority in your employing organisations will not have access to your data.

Will I get to see the results of this study?

Yes, findings from this research will be disseminated in academic journals, at conferences and stakeholder meetings. The findings will inform the health and wellbeing strategy of King’s College London on managing and supporting staff during the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. We will also advertise the results on the KCL internal website.

What are the benefits of taking part?

There is no direct benefit to you individually, but anonymised cohort data will be available to the university to help improve its approach to the wellbeing of KCL staff and the post graduate research student community. There may be some individual indirect benefits when taking part. People often value the opportunity to anonymously disclose their experiences and feelings. Furthermore, people may feel keen to contribute to research concerning such a stressful and unprecedented situation. You will also have the chance to verify the presence of antibodies from previous COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection using a home antibody testing kit.

Is the study safe? Are there any disadvantages of taking part?

This study has been approved by KCL’s Research Ethics Committee (HR-19/20-18247). You can find more details in our Participant Information Sheet.

We appreciate that you are willing to share your experiences and feelings with the research team. However, we cannot respond to information provided by you about your physical and mental health during this research. If you would like emotional support, or completing the survey has caused distress, we encourage you to reach out to someone you trust. Suggestions of outside support can be found here, and below:

  • Internal and external support services available to KCL staff can be found at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/hr/diversity/dignity-at-kings/support-services/staff-support
  • Counselling and mental health support offered by KCL to students (which are currently offering online/remote support) Email: [email protected] More information available at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/counselling.
  • NHS services including General Practitioners, Improving Access to Psychological Therapy Services and in emergency situations Accident and Emergency
  • Third sector helplines (such as Samaritans – Tel: 116 123 Email: [email protected])

If this study has harmed you in any way, or if you wish to make a complaint about the conduct of the study, you can contact King's College London using the information in our Participant Information Sheet.

What if I want to withdraw my consent?

You can withdraw yourself or your data from the study anytime until the end of the study without giving a reason by contacting a member of the research team. With regards to the online survey module, you can stop participating by stopping completion of the online surveys. You can also email the study team using the dedicated research team email address ([email protected]) to indicate you are no longer willing to participate in the study for both the online survey module and virology module. We aim to publish non-identifiable data in brief summaries within weeks of data collection. Therefore, withdrawal of the data will not be feasible if your anonymised data has already been published. If you choose to withdraw from the survey module or the virology module part way through the study, the data already collected will be retained and no further data will be collected from you

Where can I look for more information?

If you want more details about this study, like what will happen if you take part, or more information about how your data will be handled, have a look at our Participant Information Sheet.

Where can I find general information about Coronavirus?

King's is maintaining up to date guidance on Coronavirus, information for students and staff and wellbeing toolkits on their website. You can access these here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/coronavirus.

COVID-19 Antibody Home Testing FAQ

Why am I being contacted about receiving a COVID-19 antibody home testing kit?

As part of your participation in KCL CHECK, you consented to take part in the virology component of the study during the first survey which involves receiving an antibody home-testing kit. We may contact you during the study period to confirm your preferred address to receive this kit.

What is the virology component of KCL CHECK?

An antibody home-testing kit will be sent to your preferred address with a ‘Rapid Immunoassay Test Cassette’, which is a test to detect the presence of two types of COVID-19 antibodies in a small amount of blood. We currently expect this to be repeated a number of times throughout the study period to assess antibody status over time.

Is the home testing kit a clinical test?

This test is part of a research study and not a clinical test, so you should not change your behaviour in response to the result. Our understanding of immune response to COVID-19 is still evolving, therefore do not rely only on the result of this test as either confirming that you have not had COVID-19 if the test is negative, or that you have had COVID-19 if the test is positive. Please follow current NHS guidelines regarding COVID-19 symptoms and diagnosis if you are concerned at any time. In particular, if you are unwell and feel you may need testing for COVID-19, you should apply online at here for an NHS test.

What does the antibody test involve? Are there instructions so I know what to do?

This test is taken at home and involves pricking your fingertip (a lancet will be provided to do this) and taking a small blood sample which will be analysed in a ‘Test Cassette’ supplied. Within 10 minutes, red lines should appear on the test cassette indicating the result. We will ask you to take a photograph of the result and upload it to a dedicated webpage. Full instructions will be provided in the kit supplied.

Will I get to see the result of the antibody test?

Yes, you will carry out this test, see the results and provide us with your interpretation alongside a photograph. However, please remember that this is not a clinical test, and the result should not be used as the sole criteria for the diagnosis or immunity to COVID-19. We ask you not to change your behaviour in response to the results.

What does the result mean?

The COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test Cassette will indicate the presence or absence of two types of COVID-19 antibodies (IgG and IgM). Studies have shown the body produces these antibodies after experiencing COVID-19 infection. However, this is a research study and not a clinical test, so the result should not be used as the sole criteria for the diagnosis or immunity to COVID-19. A negative result does not exclude a current or previous COVID-19 infection. Similarly, a positive result does not confirm a previous COVID-19 infection and does not exclude you from getting the infection in the future. The results of this study will help our understanding of how the disease works and how the presence of antibodies may change over time. Please continue to follow current NHS guidelines regarding COVID-19 symptoms and diagnosis.

I have already had a COVID-19 test, do I need to do the KCL CHECK virology test?

The virology component of the KCL CHECK study is part of a research study and the results will help us track and interpret antibodies over time. It would be very useful for our study to include people who already have results from a previous test in order to help our interpretation, so we would be grateful if you would take part. We understand that your time is precious, and if you do not want to take part at this time, just let us know by emailing [email protected] so that we can withdraw you from this component of the study.

I do not want to be involved in the virology component, how do I withdraw?

Please email the KCL CHECK team on [email protected] to let us know that you would like to withdraw from the virology component of the study. You will continue to be sent surveys as part of KCL CHECK unless you indicate that you would also like these to stop.

Can I have another antibody test for someone in my household?

The test is for use as part of a research study, therefore we can only supply tests to people in the KCL CHECK study.

I have moved to a new address, can I get the home testing kit sent there?

We may contact you during the study period to confirm your preferred address ahead of sending testing kits, to ensure we post them to the correct place. You will therefore have the opportunity to confirm your current preferred address before receiving the kit.

I am living abroad, can I receive a home testing kit?

We are only able to send home testing kits to those with a UK address due to logistical constraints. If you return to the UK before the end of our study, you can let us know to update your details and we may be able to arrange a future test.

I can't produce a blood spot, or I can produce a blood spot but it isn't big enough to transfer to the test cassette, what should I do?

This can happen, as some people do not bleed a lot through a fingertip prick. You can try massaging along your finger to encourage blood flow, and we have also included an extra lancet in the kit if you want to try puncturing a different finger. Use your middle or ring finger for the finger prick and wash your hands with warm water beforehand to also help with blood flow. When you use the lancet, ensure you press it firmly onto your fingertip before releasing the needle. If someone is available to help, it is best to ask someone else to prick the finger as being anxious of the needle puncture could unconsciously lead you to move the finger away before firing.

A component of the kit is missing or is faulty, what should I do?

If you have checked all of the contents of the kit against the instructions and an essential component is missing or faulty, you may not be able to perform the test. Please email the research team using [email protected] to let us know and we will investigate this.

The lancet didn’t work, what should I do?

The lancets are single use therefore please ensure that they are pressed firmly on the finger before firing. To avoid damaging the lancet while opening, hold the case from the sides and twist the cap a quarter turn to unlock. You will feel the cap advance forward; do not pull. Continue twisting until you feel it separate from the device then pull the cap. A video of the procedure is available here. If for any reason this does not happen easily, or if you accidentally pull the cap too soon, we have included an extra lancet in the pack for you to use.

I have made a mistake and put the blood or buffer in the wrong place, what do I do?

This will mean that the test is invalid but please still share the result with the research team so that we are aware.

I thought I had done the test right, but the test result says invalid, what should I do?

An invalid result can happen for a number of reasons. Please still photograph and share your result with the research team so that we are aware.

I can’t tell if there is a line(s) on the test result, or the line(s) is very faint, what should I do?

In some cases, the test lines can be faint and hard to see. Please interpret the result as best you can and make a record of this in the appropriate place as directed in the instructions. Clearly photograph your result in good lighting to help with visibility.

I am not able to take a photograph of the test result, or I am having trouble uploading the photograph, what should I do?

If you anticipate or experience any difficulties following the procedure, for example if you do not have a camera/smartphone to photograph the result or experience difficulties uploading the image to the dedicated webpage, please contact us on the study email address, [email protected], and we will try to help and/or find an alternative solution that is easier for you.

I never received my test, where is it?

Tests are sent to people who consented to the optional virology component of KCL CHECK at the start of the research study and supplied a UK-based address. If you have been expecting a test but have not received it, you can contact the research team by emailing [email protected] and we can verify whether a test was sent to you. Tests are posted by first class post and there may be delays in postage that are outside of our control.

I forgot to read or photograph the results after 10 minutes, what should I do?

The window of accuracy for the test result is 10-15 minutes after you add the blood sample and buffer solution. You should not interpret the result after 20 minutes. If you forget to read the results after this time, the test may not be accurate and so you should not interpret it. Please email the research team on [email protected] so that we are aware.

I still have questions about the study, who can I get in touch with?

You can contact the research team at [email protected]. We aim to respond to all queries in 2 working days.