Concerns r Around COVID-19 Grow

July 21, 2020 – People are more concerned about the coronavirus pandemic now than they were in the past 2 months, according to a WebMD reader survey.

The numbers come from the WebMD COVID Index, which reflects responses from more than 3,000 readers each week for the past 14 weeks. Over 60,000 readers shared their thoughts on the same five questions, which measure weekly changes in concerns about personal risk, impact on lifestyle, mental well-being, access to health services and perception of well-being.

The index shows readers’ level of concern about the pandemic as a whole waned in April and May, but started to rise again as cases across the country hit record levels.

This concern is reflected in all age groups. Over the past week, more than half of all readers said they felt a little or a lot more concerned about the pandemic than the week before. The highest number, 59%, was in the 25-34 age group, with readers under 25 the second highest at 57%. Young people have been one of the groups behind the increase in cases.

At the same time, WebMD readers are expressing a little less concern about getting COVID-19 themselves. Although the index shows that overall worry has increased over the past 7 weeks, it has declined slightly this week.

“People may also feel they have more control over their level of exposure,” says John Whyte, MD, chief medical officer of WebMD. “And as we learn more about the riskier behaviors and what keeps people safe, it could give them more confidence in their daily lives.”

The age group that expressed the most concern about COVID-19 was readers aged 65 and over. Age is considered a risk factor for more severe COVID cases. In that age group, 62% said they were somewhat or very concerned this week about COVID.

Some responses have remained virtually the same since April. For example, a large number of WebMD readers claim that the media coverage of COVID-19 has affected their stress levels, and that hasn’t changed much in the past 4 months. Additionally, a large number of readers claim that COVID-19 has affected their access to health care and their ability to see a doctor somewhat, which has not changed much either.

At the same time, other stressors fluctuated. People felt more concerned about access to basic food and household items at the start of the pandemic, a fear that increased in early May but decreased afterwards. Some readers still find it difficult to access essential products and services.

“The index gives us a window into how readers are dealing during this pandemic,” says Whyte. “The good news is that although worries increase and decrease, readers still have about the same stress levels and feel they have the same access to health care. As we move forward, it is important that people take care of all aspects of their health while dealing with this pandemic.

Sources

WebMD COVID Index, April 13 to July 15, 2020, over 3,000 readers weekly.

The index is designed to quantify changes in stress and worry levels over time and is a composite measure of five individual categories: personal, risk, lifestyle impact, mental well-being, access to services health, local response and government, and perception of good- compared to a previous week. It is set at 100 for the first week and reflects the dynamics of changes over time compared to the first week. Values ​​greater than 100 correspond to an increase in concern and values ​​less than 100 correspond to a reduction in concern levels. Theoretically, it can vary between 0 (total absence of worries) and 200 (extreme concern for everything for everyone).


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