One in Five Adults May Have Avoided Health Care During the Pandemic

Finding among large survey of Dutch adults, including those with potentially urgent symptoms

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FRIDAY, Dec. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- One in five individuals avoided health care during COVID-19 lockdowns, often for potentially urgent symptoms, according to a Dutch study published online Nov. 23 in PLOS Medicine.

Marije J. Splinter, from University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues assessed prevalence of health care avoidance during the pandemic from a patient perspective, including symptoms that were left unheeded, as well as determinants of health care avoidance. Analysis included 5,656 survey responses collected from April 20 to July 10, 2020.

The researchers found that 20.2 percent of respondents reported having avoided health care, despite that 36.3 percent of those respondents reported symptoms that potentially warranted urgent evaluation, including limb weakness (13.6 percent), palpitations (10.8 percent), and chest pain (10.2 percent). Older age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.14), female sex (aOR, 1.58), low educational level (primary education versus higher vocational/university: aOR, 1.21), poor self-appreciated health (per level decrease: aOR, 2.00), unemployment (versus employed: aOR, 2.29), smoking (aOR, 1.34), concern about contracting COVID-19 (per level increase: aOR, 1.28), and symptoms of depression (per point increase: aOR, 1.13) and anxiety (per point increase: aOR, 1.16) were determinants associated with health care avoidance.

"These results emphasize the need for targeted public education urging these vulnerable patients to timely seek medical care for their symptoms to mitigate major health consequences," the authors write.

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