New Study Finds Anxiety, Depression Associated With Medical Care Avoidance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The results of the study found that adults who experienced 4 common symptoms of anxiety and depression have upwards of 2 times greater risk of delaying medical care or not receiving needed non-COVID-19 medical care amidst the pandemic.

New research from the University of Toronto has found a strong association between mental health symptoms and medical care avoidance, according to a press release.

A sample of more than 73,000 US adults from the Household Pulse Survey was conducted on a weekly basis by the US Census Bureau, aiming to collect data on the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The results of the study found that adults who experienced 4 common symptoms of anxiety and depression have upwards of 2 times greater risk of delaying medical care or not receiving needed non-COVID-19 medical care amidst the pandemic. Further, in the 4 weeks prior to participating in the survey in June, 41% of the sample delayed medical care and nearly one-third of the Americans surveyed did not receive necessary non-COVID-19 medical care.

“Patients with chronic medical conditions or new symptoms that they are concerned about need to continue to seek medical advice,” said senior author Jason M. Nagata, MD, MSc, in a press release. “As the pandemic continues, it remains vitally important that the public have accurate and updated information on the risks and benefits of seeking medical care.”

In addition, the study also found that symptoms of anxiety and depression were overwhelmingly common among the sample. In the 7 days prior to the survey, 65% reported being nervous, anxious, or on edge; 56% reported not being able to stop or control worrying; 53% reported having little interest or pleasure in doing things; and 52% reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless, according to the study authors.

The study authors noted their findings also have important implications for clinical practice.

“Medical professionals, social workers, and clinicians need to proactively take steps to help clients work through symptoms of anxiety and depression,” said Kyle T. Ganson, PhD, MSW, in a press release. “This will help to improve the likelihood that they will seek the medical care they need.”

REFERENCE

New study finds that anxiety and depression are associated with medical care avoidance during the coronavirus pandemic. Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work- University of Toronto. https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/news/new-study-finds-that-anxiety-and-depression-are-associated-with-medical-care-avoidance-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/. Published September 2, 2020. Accessed September 3, 2020.