People with Chronic Conditions Concerned About “Returning to Normal” During Pandemic
As regulations around social distancing, public gatherings and business closures begin rolling back nationwide, people living with chronic health conditions are increasingly faced with the dilemma of whether to return to their old routines as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Although many are frustrated and weary from the pandemic’s physical and mental toll, people with chronic conditions continue to approach the idea of “returning to normal” with concern.
In fact, nearly six in 10 respondents of a Health Union survey of 2,210 people living with chronic health concerns said they are worried about resuming normal activities at this time. This survey, which was fielded May 12-14, was the third of a series of “snapshots in time” that track the perspectives and health behaviors of people with chronic conditions throughout the pandemic.
Overall concern about the coronavirus has decreased among respondents over the past two months, with 64% expressing concern during this survey. This is down from 71% from Health Union’s first COVID-19 survey (fielded in March) and 67% from the second (fielded in April). There has also been a decrease since the survey’s first wave in the percentage of respondents stocking up on medications (down from 41% to 27%) and canceling appointments with healthcare practitioners (down from 57% to 45%).
However, decreasing concern does not necessarily mean people with chronic health conditions are ready to return to their pre-pandemic routines.
When asked what kind of “normal” behaviors they’ve recently reinstated into their lives, two-thirds of respondents indicated they have not yet made any changes. This number was higher for respondents with some conditions, such as heart failure (77%), COPD (76%), lung cancer (75%), asthma (74%) and rheumatoid arthritis (73%).
One patient advocate from Asthma.net, one of Health Union’s 28 chronic condition-specific online health communities, said that despite her region lifting regulations, she won’t be going back to her old routines right away. “I can stay home, so I will continue to do so for the long haul–for my own health, and to be one more link in decreasing the risk for those who cannot stay home,” she said.
For those respondents who have made steps toward “returning to normal,” going back to in-person visits with healthcare practitioners, represented by 14% of respondents, has been the most common behavior change. Other common changes have been more social in nature or lifestyle-related, such as visiting with friends or family in person (13%), making non-essential shopping trips (9%) and doing less social distancing (7%).
Respondents for wave three of Health Union’s COVID-19 Consumer Attitudes and Health Behaviors Survey were recruited from the company’s portfolio of online health communities.
Health Union is fielding several waves of data to capture snapshots in time of consumer attitudes and behaviors as this global pandemic continues to evolve. Please contact our business development team or fill out the form below if you are interested in the full results – or condition-specific results – of the survey.