Joshua Salomon, Alex Reinhart, Alyssa Bilinski, Eu Chua, Wichada La Motte-Kerr, Minttu Rönn, Marissa Reitsma, Katherine Morris, Sarah LaRocca, Tamar Farag, Frauke Kreuter, Roni Rosenfeld, Ryan Tibshirani
The U.S. COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey, 2020-2021: Continuous real-time measurement of COVID-19 symptoms, risks, protective behaviors, testing and vaccination

MedRxiv: the preprint server for health sciences, 2021: (e-only)

The U.S. COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey (CTIS) is a large, cross-sectional, Internet-based survey that has operated continuously since April 6, 2020. By inviting a random sample of Facebook active users each day, CTIS collects information about COVID-19 symptoms, risks, mitigating behaviors, mental health, testing, vaccination, and other key priorities. The large scale of the survey – over 20 million responses in its first year of operation – allows tracking of trends over short timescales and allows comparisons at fine demographic and geographic detail. The survey has been repeatedly revised to respond to emerging public health priorities. In this paper, we describe the survey methods and content and give examples of CTIS results that illuminate key patterns and trends and help answer high-priority policy questions relevant to the COVID-19 epidemic and response. These results demonstrate how large online surveys can provide continuous, real-time indicators of important outcomes that are not subject to public health reporting delays and backlogs. The CTIS offers high value as a supplement to official reporting data by supplying essential information about behaviors, attitudes toward policy and preventive measures, economic impacts, and other topics not reported in public health surveillance systems.