Coronavirus: physician and patient perspectives – 6th week

Week six of the report looks at the responses from randomly selected Healthcare professionals (HCPs) and members of the general public from USA and Europe, who completed an online survey.

As we would expect given the longevity of an incentive – free survey,  the response rate has dropped over the last few weeks,  but response rates across all other projects in field remain stable.

This week we have asked HCPs two additional questions about additional resources they need to treat Covid-19, and what they feel is the single most important message for the general public. Patients were asked what they were most concerned about at the moment, with 60% choosing ‘the health of their loved ones’.

For the first time since week one, patient perception of the risk of Covid-19 has risen above that of the HCPs, with less than half of the HCPs considering Covid-19 a severe threat at this time. Encouragingly given the stage of the pandemic, 78% HCP respondents are confident in the ability of their own facility to handle a severe outbreak.



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Confidence in government and local plans

Confidence in government plans is improved in both HCP and patient groups. There is a significant drop in patient confidence in the German government, although it remains high, at 75%. HCP confidence is static or increased in all countries.

Confidence in local plans continues to grow, increased by 11% in Spanish HCPs and 6% in US HCPs, although we do see a similar drop -off in the confidence of German patients.

78% HCPs are now confident in the ability of their own facility to handle a severe Covid-19 outbreak, up from 65% in week one, with small increases in every country except France.



How serious of a threat is Covid-19 at a local level

For the first time since week one, the patient group considers Covid-19 to be a more severe threat than the HCPs. UK HCPs perceive it to be the highest threat, at 60%, but that does still represent a drop since week four (69%). Conversely, UK patient concern has jumped from 43% last week to 71%, the highest level amongst patients during the study; reflecting the worries of a nation that is hoping to see the peak over the next week.

In Italy, although patients still consider the threat to be very high, Italian HCPs’ assessment of the threat has dropped from 70% (weeks two to five) to 59% as Italy sees its rate of new cases and fatalities slow.


How can we contain Covid-19?

Support for the majority of containment measures has dropped as they become more normalised. The exception to this is for vaccinations, now at 60%.

In the open end responses the advice largely echoes governmental advice: stay at home, observe social distancing, and shop only for essentials. However, a common message is a variation of ‘don’t panic’, and an emerging trend is the recommendation that the public  wear masks in public in spite of supply issues.

Staying up-to-date: media coverage

There is very little change in the perception of media coverage compared to last week. Less than 15% respondents in both audiences consider coverage to be alarmist and sensationalist.

There is also a drop in the percentage of HCPs who think the media coverage is overwhelming, although this isn’t reflected in the patient group.

Staying up-to-date: official information

Following the pattern that started to emerge last week, HCPs are checking official sources of information slightly less frequently.

Inevitably, as the situation unfolds the frequency of updates slows. 91% HCPs are still checking at least once a day with little variation between countries.

Covid-19 resources

We asked HCPs what they needed more of to treat Covid-19, and the results are shown here. Increased availability of PPE, and testing for both HCPs and the general public were, by far, the most popular, with little variation country-by-country. At a country level, only 49% German respondents felt they needed additional PPE, compared to 82% in Italy, 81% in the US and 85% in Spain.

Increased testing for HCPs was felt least useful in the US (48%), Germany (57%) and France (57%), compared to 71% of respondents in Italy and the UK. This was reversed with testing for public which was requested less in Italy (43%), and the UK (41%), compared to 66% in Spain, and 60% in the US. This is despite the UK’s widely criticised testing protocols. In the open end responses, an antibody test was frequently mentioned.


"I'll go to work in the ER for you, if you stay at home for me"

This week we also asked HCPs what they thought the single most important message for their patients was. Unsurprisingly, 69% recommended staying at home and observing social distancing.

The open end questions reveal concern from US doctors about what they consider to be unreliable

governmental information and advice, and advice about staying healthy (including a strong recommendation to have lots of hugs from your family).

It was also suggested that there is no ‘one size fits all’ message –advice depends on so many variables including profession, level of physical health,and location.

"Le mie patologie ben più gravi del Coronavirus"

The new patient question this week asked what they were most concerned about, in line with concerns over the impact of Covid-19 on the general public’s mental health.

There was no uniting anxiety around any specific issue beyond the 60% worried about the health of their loved ones (compared to 24% concerned about their own physical health). Understandably,one-third of respondents are worried about ‘the unknown’.

The open end responses reveal that for many respondents the worries at the moment go beyond Covid-19; they’re at least as anxious about their ‘normal’ health and global warming,

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