COVID-19 and Chronic Illness: Patients Sound the Alarm
Published Apr 17, 2020 • By Candice Salomé
Carenity conducted a survey to measure in real time the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on access to care and quality of life for chronic patients, a population that is particularly vulnerable in this time of pandemic and lockdown. While attention is primarily focused on the care for people affected by COVID-19, the risk of chronic patients discontinuing their medications or treatments is real. It should be remembered that over 133 million people in the US are living with at least one chronic illness, many of whom require regular care.
640 chronic patients responded to our survey. We now know more about their experiences of the pandemic and self-isolation.
640 patients and relatives of patients in the US participated in our survey conducted from March 19th to April 14th, 2020. Respondents are mostly women (84%) with an average age of 52 years.
A large majority of these respondents live in a house with a yard or exterior space (64%) or in an apartment with at least 2 rooms (26%). 3% of them live in a studio apartment.
92% of respondents live with a chronic disease:
The majority of respondents have type 2 diabetes (26%), asthma (23%) multiple sclerosis (21%), and COPD (13%). Many patients are living with multiple chronic conditions.
87% of patients are currently taking a background therapy for their chronic disease.
Very few patients have been tested for COVID-19
In our study, the number of people tested for coronavirus was very low (only 33, or 5.16%). Among them, only 1.41% tested positive.
We were also able to share a testimonial from Tim, a 34-year-old asthma patient since childhood, who was recently infected by COVID-19.
If you have also tested positive for COVID-19 and would like to share your story,
do not hesitate to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the start of the outbreak, most members (52%) have not changed the frequency at which they consult their doctor. Of those who have, 34% are seeing their doctor less than usual.
Among the 87% of patients on a background therapy, only 17% have changed how often they take it and 7% have stopped taking their medication.
It is recommended that you seek advice from your doctor before making any changes to your treatment..
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 1 in 10 patients has had difficulty finding treatment.
Since the start of the health crisis, about 10% of patients surveyed have had difficulty finding their treatment at the pharmacy.
Not all pathologies are impacted in the same way. The most affected pathologies are the following:
Asthma and type 2 diabetes patients have found it more difficult to find their background therapy at the pharmacy in recent days. Though not evidenced among our US respondents, shortages for other pathologies may be due in part to clinical trials using hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) in the treatment of COVID-19.
Since the start of the outbreak, 13% of patients have had difficulty finding an available doctor.
Patients with asthma had the most difficulty finding an available physician (17%), followed by patients with COPD (13%), multiple sclerosis (12%) and type 2 diabetes (9%).
31% of respondents have had a medical consultation or surgery cancelled or postponed..
Stress and isolation overwhelms patients
Regarding professional life, 10% of respondents are working from home and 8% are on unpaid leave. Another 5% are on paid leave and 3% are on sick leave.
When asked "On a scale of 1 to 10, how well are you following the barrier gestures?”, respondants indicated that they are following them well, with an average score of 9 out of 10 for the following gestures: washing hands regularly, coughing and sneezing into one's elbow or a tissue, greeting without shaking hands or kissing and social distancing.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on respondents' levels of stress and social isolation. Their stress level stands at an average of 7.1 out of 10 and their isolation at an average of 6.7 out of 10.
43% of patients are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their health due to their chronic illness and 27% are worried for their loved ones. Over 9% of respondents fear the spread of the virus around the world, while 5% worry about hospital overload.
Sources of information: a wide gap between use and trust
45% of those surveyed use the television to keep informed of the current situation. Official government or health authority sites (44.5%) are the second most common source of information, followed by social networks (38%) and health websites (34%).
However, the sources which respondents trust the most are very different. Doctors (44%) are most trusted for their quality of information, followed by government or health authority websites (39%), health websites (32%) and other healthcare professionals (21%). Social networks, though frequently consulted, are among the least trusted (5%).
Almost 1 in 4 patients are severely lacking information related to their disease and COVID-19
24% of patients do not feel sufficiently informed about the risks associated with their disease. Many patients have questions such as:
- “What are the additional risks associated with my disease?”
- “I'd like to know the risks associated with my treatment?”
- “Should I be taking any extra precautions?”
In an article published in our Health Magazine, Coronavirus and Chronic Illness, we provide concrete answers for patients with chronic diseases faced with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Survey conducted by Carenity among 640 patient respondents or relatives of patients in the United States.
Are you worried about your health? Are you afraid to bother your doctor? Are you hesitating to go to the hospital or health clinic for your usual care? Are you continuing to take your treatment normally? Have you been confronted with a shortage of your medication at the pharmacy? Are you lacking information about the COVID-19 outbreak?
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