EHS-COVID (495) Q4 Reduced demand for non-urgent essential health services (3)

6 December, 2021

This paper concludes: 'In this population-based cross-sectional study, 1 in 5 individuals avoided healthcare during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic, often for potentially urgent symptoms. Healthcare avoidance was strongly associated with female sex, fragile self-appreciated health, and high levels of depression and anxiety. These results emphasise the need for targeted public education urging these vulnerable patients to timely seek medical care for their symptoms to mitigate major health consequences.'

Citation and comment from me below.

CITATION: Prevalence and determinants of healthcare avoidance during the COVID-19 pandemic: A population-based cross-sectional study

Marije J. Splinter,Premysl Velek,M. Kamran Ikram,Brenda C. T. Kieboom,Robin P. Peeters,Patrick J. E. Bindels,M. Arfan Ikram,Frank J. Wolters,Maarten J. G. Leening,Evelien I. T. de Schepper,Silvan Licher

PLOS Medicine, Published: November 23, 2021

COMMENT (NPW): The paper is from the Netherlands, and it seems likely that healthcare avoidance would show variability between different countries. As we have discussed on HIFA, healthcare avoidance during the pandemic is associated with fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 as a result of seeking health care. What remains unknown is the extent to which fear might be exaggerated, leading to greater health risks as a result of not seeking care. It is also unclear what is the actual risk of contracting COVID-19 as a result of seeking care. Patients and families inevitably face great uncertainties when making decisions about care. The advice from the UK National Health Service is apposite: "At the moment it can be hard to know what to do if you're unwell or have a concern about your health. It's important to get medical help if you think you need it..." What is the situation in your country?

Best wishes, Neil

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,