New research shows Covid-19 and other concerns impacting access to healthcare

New research from Pfizer Healthcare Ireland confirms that lingering Covid-19 concerns are continuing to impact access to healthcare, which may have a longer-term impact on people’s health due to missed diagnoses.

Of those surveyed, over a third of all adults are in some way worried about the possibility of a missed diagnosis due to the impact of the virus. The research also reveals that almost one third (32% ) of people with an underlying condition are nervous about being in a hospital setting this winter.

The research, undertaken as part of the annual Pfizer Health and Science Index, asked respondents about their direct experience of Covid-19, their general health, and attitudes to science. Of the respondents who have had the virus at least once, 80% had it in 2022, with the highest incidence occurring between January and April 2022 (45% ). The research also revealed that 15% of people with an existing health condition, who tested positive for Covid-19, feel that their health has deteriorated as a result, with this figure increasing to one in five people (21% ) amongst those aged 18-24.

In addition to the pandemic, this year’s Pfizer Index also asked the general public about the cost-of-living and its potential impact on access to healthcare: three in 10 adults say they are less likely to go to the doctor this winter specifically due to the cost-of-living crisis, with younger age groups aged 18-24 (49% ) more likely to put off a doctor’s visit because of these concerns. Worryingly, a fifth of all respondents confirmed they have already put off a trip to the doctor this year due to cost-of-living concerns.

While people in Ireland are generally quite positive about their health, scoring themselves 6.9 out of 10, the annual Pfizer Index has captured a gradual decline in this positive sentiment over a number of years. On average, Irish adults are concerned about developing a number of illnesses as they age (more than four are mentioned on average ), with cancer, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s topping the list of concerns. More than half the adult population (56% ), and two-thirds of women, are concerned about developing a form of cancer.

Looking at attitudes to science, with 40% of respondents studying science up to leaving certificate, and 20% at third level, more than three quarters (77% ) believe there should be more focus on science subjects in primary school. There is general acknowledgement that STEM qualifications boost employability (56% ), but equally a growth in the perspective that STEM courses necessitate high leaving certificate points and are difficult third-level courses to get into (51% ). Four in ten (41% ) of younger adults (aged 18-24 ) feel that Ireland has more STEM opportunities in comparison to other countries.

“The research results showcase the impact of Covid-19 which is still being felt by the public and the health service. It’s really important for people to book their appointment for their booster this winter and if you get Covid-19, and are higher risk, it is especially important that you take action straight away and not ignore concerns. A worrying statistic from the Index shows that 36% of people are concerned they may have missed a medical diagnosis - we strongly encourage people to attend healthcare appointments, particularly if they have been putting this off and ensure they take preventative action to stay well this winter,” Deb Mangone, Country Manager, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, commenting on the research, said.


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