COVID-19 Pandemic Led to Delays in Medical Care

April 18, 2021
Keith A. Reynolds

Oncology Nursing News, April 2021, Volume 15, Issue 02

More than one-third of adults report delaying or forgoing health care either because of fear of infection or their physicians offering limited services.

Astudy by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit health policy center, found that more than one-third of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 have forgone or delayed medical care because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.1 According to the report, as of September 2020, 36% of adults reported delaying or forgoing health care because they were worried about becoming infected with COVID-19 or because their providers offered limited services because of the pandemic.

Among respondents with 1 or more chronic condition, 40.7% reported they have delayed or forgone care, whereas 56.3% of respondents with both a physical and a mental health condition have done the same, the report says. Black adults were more likely (39.7%) to report forgoing or delaying care than Hispanic/Latinx (35.5%) or White (34.3%) adults and more likely to report forgoing or delaying multiple types of care, at 28.5% compared with 22.3% and 21.1% respectively, according to the report.

The most common type of medical care delayed or forgone was dental at 25.3%, followed by visiting a primary care physician or specialist at 20.6%, and receiving preventive health screenings or medical tests at 15.5%, the report says.

Respondents with 1 or more chronic health conditions such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory illness, heart disease, kidney disease, and mental health disorders made up the majority (76%) of those who have delayed or forgone health care. Delaying and forgoing care is not without its dangers; 32.6% of respondents say that doing so has worsened 1 or more of their health conditions or limited their ability to work or do other daily activities, according to the report.