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Investigating the relationship between voice features and psychology in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic







IRAS Project ID: 284927

PIS 13 June 2020 v1.3

Participant Information Sheet


Investigating the relationship between spontaneous speech features and psychology in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown: personality, wellbeing, coping strategies and affect.



You are invited to take part in a research study. To help you decide whether or not to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully. Talk to others about the study if you wish. Contact us if there is anything that is not clear, or if you would like more information. Take time to decide whether or not you wish to take part.


What is the purpose of the study?


PsyVoiD is a research project undertaken by a group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh. Our research team is based at the Usher Institute - a department largely focused on medical informatics - and is committed to determine the relationship between the way we speak and our mental health. You may direct to us any questions about this study and we will do our best to provide a satisfactory answer (contact: Sofia de la Fuente, on sofia.delafuente@ed.ac.uk).


The purpose of this study is to investigate two interrelated questions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences on our everyday life. First, how do personal circumstances, psychological and emotional characteristics, personality and life conditions influence our perceived impact of this critical situation? And, second, can these features be detectable (automatically) through the analysis of our voice? We aim to explore the possibility of designing personalised psychological recommendations (i.e. tailored to actual personality traits). The inclusion of voice features might enhance the applicability of our findings through to the development of embedded technologies (e.g. wearable devices).


In order to address these research questions, we will ask you to answer several sociodemographic questions a complete a few validated psychological questionnaires. In order to collect voice data, you will be prompted to produce a spontaneous narrative about your day and routine, whilst audio is being recorded. The study is conducted online, first, for safety reasons, and second, due to the potential to reach volunteers everywhere within the UK. By involving as many participants as possible, we expect our findings to be more reliable and robust.


Why have I been invited to take part?


We have used different social platforms for our study to reach as many people as possible. Most likely, you have received this information through the University of Edinburgh’s mailing list, come across it on Facebook and similar social networks or through an acquaintance who has very kindly forwarded it to you.

Do I have to take part?


No, it is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you do decide to take part, you will be presented with this information sheet and be asked to confirm your agreement in a consent form. If you decide to take part, you are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason. Deciding not to take part or withdrawing from the study will not affect the healthcare that you receive, or your legal rights.


What will happen if I take part?


This study is 100% online. First of all, you will be presented with an informed consent form. This will look similar to other internet agreements, where you read a few conditions and then tick a few boxes. If you agree, you will fill out a form with the following sections:


  1. Sociodemographic, professional, and financial: age, gender, marital status, education, religion, occupation, financial security, involvement with the NHS.
  2. Health: general, mental and COVID-19 related health.
  3. Lockdown: living arrangements, habits, expectations, perceptions.
  4. SSGS: levels of guilt and shame that you might be experiencing (10 items).
  5. COPE: questions about the way you look at, and deal with, tensions, difficulties, and unforeseen circumstances (28 questions).
  6. Ryff: present level of wellbeing (18 items).
  7. HADS: recent feelings of depression and anxiety (14 items).
  8. IPIP-NEO-60: personality test that follows the Big Five model, measuring agreeableness, openness to experience, extraversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism (60 items).
  9. Voice recording: you will be prompted to speak about a typical lockdown day.


Each section takes between 1-8 minutes to complete and the survey should take under 30 minutes in total. You do not need to think much about the answers, your first thought will be best.


Please make sure to complete ALL the questions AND voice recording in order to successfully submit. You do not need to do this in one go, the online survey will allow you to pause and continue later as long as you do not close your browser.


  • Optional follow-up study: at the beginning of the survey, you will be asked whether you would like to take part in a follow-up study within the next 3-6 months. This study will follow the exact same format as the present one.

If you would like to participate, please provide your email address where indicate. It will be used to contact you with this purpose only. If you choose not to participate in the follow-up study, you do not need to provide your email address.


Is there anything I need to do or avoid?


You will answer a range of psychological questions and record a brief voice note. Therefore, you may want to choose quiet place, as if you were going to speak on the phone.


Given the nature of the study, it is also recommended that you do not do this under the effect of any substances that may cloud your judgement (our subjective wellbeing, for instance, is not the same under the effect of alcohol) or affect your ability to give consent.


What are the possible benefits of taking part?


There are no direct benefits to you taking part in this study, although the results might help to improve the healthcare services and social policies the future. We do believe that the introspection and self-reflection involved in this study may result beneficial to you. However, such outcome will vary individually, and among many other factors, will depend on your degree of engagement with the task.


What are the possible disadvantages of taking part?


We do not consider that there are any disadvantages, apart from the completion time. However, we recognise that individual participants will have different experiences of the study. Therefore, should you feel any distress arising from completing the questionnaires, we would like to point you to the following resources (clicking on the option will take you to the relevant website):



Finally, you may consult this NHS website to confirm whether you are experiencing symptoms that would be compatible with a COVID-19 diagnosis or not. If you are, we would like to remind you that you should self-isolate.


What if there are any problems?


If you have a concern about any aspect of this study please contact Sofia de la Fuente Garcia (sofia.delafuente@ed.ac.uk), who will do their best to answer your questions.


What will happen if I don’t want to carry on with the study


You are free to withdraw at any point, without giving any reason: simply close your browser. You will be welcome to start again if you change your mind.


If there is an interruption, or you wish to pause the study, you will be to do so as long as you do not close your browser. If you do not finish and ‘send’, your data will not be collected.


Taking part in this study does not entail the obligation to take part in mid-term follows-ups.


What happens when the study is finished?


The principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) EU 2016/679, will be adhered to when transferring and storing the data that you provide.


Your name will not be collected, and you will be assigned an individual numerical ID. Therefore, your data will be anonymous, except for your voice and your email address, which will be exclusively accessible by authorised researchers. If text transcripts are to be obtained from the recordings by a third-party contractor, we will do so through the contracts department of the University of Edinburgh, abiding by all the pertinent regulations. Recordings and email addresses will be kept in a secure location with limited access (an encrypted container within the University of Edinburgh’s DataStore system) and destroyed once they have been processed and are no longer needed.


Anonymised data, that is, numerical voice features and questionnaire scores, will not be sent outside the University of Edinburgh. They will, however, be stored in a university server to which our EU collaborators will have secure access. This is because we would like to look at cross-cultural data in collaboration with other researchers that are leading similar projects in other EU countries (in Spain, at the moment, that we know of).


Will my taking part be kept confidential?


All the information we collect during the course of the research will be kept confidential and there are strict laws which safeguard your privacy at every stage. For details on what data will be held about you and who will hold and store this information please refer to the Data Protection Information Sheet.


What will happen to the results of the study?


This study will be written up as journal publications and conference presentations, as the research goes on and different results are obtained. If possible, we will update you on this when you are contacted for the follow-up study (if you choose to do so). Please rest assured that you will not be identifiable from any published results.


Who is organising and funding the research?


This study has been organised by researchers at the Usher Institute and sponsored by the University of Edinburgh.

Who has reviewed the study?


This study has been reviewed by the COVID-19 Committee of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Edinburgh, by ACCORD Medical Research Ethics Committee and by East Midlands – Leicester South Research Ethics Committee.


Researcher Contact Details


If you have any further questions about the study, please contact Sofia de la Fuente Garcia (sofia.delafuente@ed.ac.uk).


Independent Contact Details


If you would like to discuss this study with someone independent of the study, please contact Dr. Matt Bouamrane (Matt.Bouamrane@ed.ac.uk).




If you wish to receive confidential advice, support and/or information on health-related matters, please contact your nearest PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service).


If you wish to make a complaint about the study, please contact the University of Edinburgh’s Research Governance team via email at: researchgovernance@ed.ac.uk








Thank you very much for choosing to take part in our study. This survey consists of 155 questions and a short voice recording, and should take no more than 30 minutes. You may pause and continue later as long as you do not close your browser.

We encourage you not to take long to consider the questions, first thoughts will be best. It is is essential for our investigation that you answer honestly and freely. Please remember that there are no right or wrong questions. 

Online technologies give us the opportunity to extend our research UK wide. Please, consider sharing this research with as many people as possible.

Thank you very much or your collaboration.

There are 52 questions in this survey.