The Politicisation of Healthcare During the Pandemic

*The translation of this article in Spanish, and German has been made through machine translation and has not been edited yet. we apologise for any inaccuracies.

The Evolution of the COVID-19 Pandemic has Resulted in Major Changes in the Healthcare Ecosystem, Patient Delivery, and Public Health Messaging Around the World.

With increased public attention and media coverage about public health and health-related topics during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been argued that healthcare has become too politicized; also called the politicisation of healthcare.

What does politicized mean? The term `politicized´ means that a thing or an issue is made political in character and therefore influenced by political opinions. The politicisation of healthcare describes situations where political views and political agendas have affected perceptions and interventions of healthcare issues, as well as how the scientific and healthcare communities are perceived by the general public. It is prevalent that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a transformation of the healthcare system, however, the question remains, has the pandemic resulted in the politicisation of healthcare? And if so, is this politicization perceived as positive or negative?
To find out, M3 Global Research asked physicians and other healthcare professionals about their opinions regarding politics in healthcare in the M3 Pulse survey, in March 2022.

M3 Pulse is a monthly survey conducted with M3 Global Research panel members, allowing physicians and other healthcare professionals in USA and Europe to share their knowledge, opinions, and expertise around trending healthcare topics.
politics in healthcare

Views of the Politicisation of Healthcare During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In general, the online discussions about politics in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacts public opinion and healthcare delivery seem to be divided. Some argue that the politicization of healthcare has resulted in disruption in the public health messaging and healthcare interventions where political views and agendas have taken over the medical science that should be the basis for healthcare-related issues. Thus, making it difficult for people to distinguish between facts and opinions, and assess relative risks.

In March 2022, the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and Health Survey regarding politics in healthcare was released, indicating that “the increasing politicization of public health is undermining trust in healthcare systems across the globe.”.

The results from the survey, fielded with 10,000 respondents across 10 countries, show that 55% feel worried that medical science is becoming politicized or being used to support a specific political agenda.

On the other side, some argue that the heightened interest and public attention for healthcare-related issues has made people take on a more critical and research-oriented approach when consuming health information and in turn putting more pressure on politicians, the scientific and healthcare communities, and the media at large to be more transparent and to deliver science-based health information. This is argued to make people better informed and more involved in healthcare-related issues than before the COVID-19 pandemic; opening the door for new ideas, innovations and solutions to problems that were prominent even before the pandemic.

As mentioned by Frontiers in Medicine, July 2020:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has become a reality check for many aspects of healthcare systems… The COVID-19 pandemic acts as a transformation catalyst, accelerating the implementation and adoption of changes in public health interventions.”

M3 Pulse Results From 7000 Physicians and Other Healthcare Professionals Around the World About Politicisation of Healthcare

What do M3 Global Research panel members think about politics in healthcare? Do they agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in politicisation of health? Check out March M3 Pulse results below.

Out of the 7107 global respondents, 88% agree with the statement that the COVID-19 pandemic has politicized healthcare, while 7% don´t agree that the pandemic has politicized health-related issues.

7% of all respondents stated that they disagree with the statement that the COVID-19 pandemic has politicised health-related issues, while 88% agree that healthcare has become politized due to the pandemic. 76% of the ones who agree, think that it had negative impacts on healthcare and 12% think it had positive impacts.  

These are the top three health-related topics that are perceived to be the most politicized:

  1. Vaccines 
  2. Public health policies 
  3. Medical treatment 

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