A fifth of people have put off going to the doctor because of cost of living concerns – even though a third of all people fear that they may have missed a medical diagnosis due to the lockdown, according to new research.
An index produced for Pfizer Ireland, based on research by Behaviour and Attitudes, shows that a 36% of all adults are in some way worried about the possibility of a missed diagnosis due to the lockdowns around Covid-19.
Earlier this month, a report published in Lancet Oncology said that one million cancer diagnoses were missed across Europe in the last two years, and that the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown might set the fight against cancer back by a decade.
The new index also revealed that the cost of living crisis was significantly impacting 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.
In fact, a fifth of all respondents confirmed they have already put off a trip to the doctor this year due to cost-of-living concerns, a finding described by researchers as “worrying”.
The index also captured a gradual decline in positive sentiment about health over a number of years. “On average, Irish adults are concerned about developing a number of illnesses as they age (more than 4 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,” the survey found.
Commenting on the research, Rachel Morrogh, Director of Advocacy and External Affairs, Irish Cancer Society, said:
“While we are very concerned to see a third of people say that they are considering putting off a healthcare appointment this year due to the cost-of-living, we are unfortunately not surprised by this.”
“We are yet to see the true impact of COVID-19 in terms of delayed cancer diagnoses, and with cost-of-living concerns adding yet another barrier to healthcare access, a lot of people who should be going to the doctor and getting an early diagnosis may not go, further escalating the scale of this issue. We implore anyone who needs to make an appointment with their healthcare provider to do so without delay. Please put your health first,” she appealed.