Welcome to the CABS study website!

We are gathering UK-wide evidence about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s health and help-seeking behaviour.

We are a dedicated team of researchers from Cardiff University, Cancer Research UK, King’s College London, the University of Surrey and Public Health Wales. 

We carried out an online survey and interviews in August and September 2020 and again in February and March 2021 with people aged 18 years and over, from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the UK. People were recruited from online panels including HealthWise Wales and through social media. We are very grateful to the 8,167 people who completed the survey, and 30 people who took part in the interviews.

We have finished analysing the first set of data, with the following key messages -

  • Nearly half of participants who experienced potential cancer symptom(s) reported not contacting their GP for any symptom during this time, even for red flags such as coughing up blood.
  • Almost 1 in 5 of participants were less likely to engage with cancer screening now then before the pandemic.
  • Worries about wasting healthcare professionals’ time, over-stretching limited healthcare resources, access to healthcare services and COVID-19 infection were frequently reported barriers to medical help-seeking.
  • Interviews indicated that where participants identified a new or changing symptom, this was often attributed to their pre-existing health condition. Participants were fearful of seeking medical help in hospitals, in part due to media reporting of COVID-19 in hospitals. When participants had contacted their GP, they reported positive experiences that contrasted with their expectations. They wanted to retain remote consulting as an option after the pandemic, with face-to-face appointments available based on clinical need.

The findings on potential cancer symptom experiences and help seeking behaviour were released on the 25th February 2021 via a policy briefing and also published in BMJ Open. The findings on intentions to engage in cancer screening were released on the 16th July 2021 via a policy briefing and also published in Preventive Medicine.

A press release accompanied the symptom help seeking policy briefing which received extensive media coverage. There were over 200 news items in national and local newspapers or news websites, and 30 pieces of coverage on local/Welsh radio.

Professor Brain gave a number of media interviews including Leading Britain’s Conversation radio station and ITV’s Good Morning Britain.









Sky News presented the findings with live interviews with Matt Black, a patient who was diagnosed with bowel cancer during the first lockdown, and social media influencer Deborah James (@bowelbabe). The findings were also extensively covered via social media with the Cardiff University and CABS study twitter accounts receiving thousands of views and engagements.

CABS study findings have been used to develop public awareness campaigns including the #GetChecked online campaign launched by Cancer Research Wales.


Further information can be found here getchecked.wales

CABS team members have presented evidence at 3 government/policy meetings and presented/participated in over 25 various presentations, talks, discussions and webinars. We have engaged with organisations such as Cancer Research UK, Wales Cancer Alliance, Macmillan, Cancer Research Wales, UKSBM Cancer Prevention and Screening Special Interest Group, MediWales Lifestories and COPE Cymru. Dr Vicky Whitelock was awarded a prize for best poster presentation at the annual UK Society of Behavioural Medicine Conference 2021. 

These engagements helped raise awareness of the CABS study, sparked questions and discussion and findings from the study are shaping future priorities for early cancer detection and managmant.

Follow our Twitter updates on @CABSCovid19