Patients with anxiety, depression may delay medical care, study finds


Adults who experience common symptoms of anxiety and depression are at greater risk of delaying or not receiving medical care amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Among a sample of over 73,000 U.S. adults from the Household Pulse Survey, a weekly survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that collected data on the social and economic impacts of COVID-19, researchers found that adults who experienced four common symptoms of anxiety and depression have upwards of two times greater risk of delaying medical care or not receiving needed non-coronavirus medical care amidst the pandemic.

found that in the four weeks prior to participating in the survey in June, 41 percent of the sample delayed medical care. In addition, nearly one third of the Americans surveyed did not receive necessary non-coronavirus medical care.

The study also found that symptoms of anxiety and depression were overwhelmingly common among the sample. In the seven days prior to the survey, 65 percent reported being nervous, anxious or on edge, 56 percent reported not being able to stop or control worrying, 53 percent reported having little interest or pleasure in doing things, and 52 percent reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless.

The study's authors said that their findings also have important implications for clinical practice.

“Medical professionals, social workers, and clinicians need to proactively take steps to help clients work through symptoms of anxiety and depression," said Kyle Ganson, PhD, MSW, lead author on the study and assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. “This will help to improve the likelihood that they will seek the medical care they need.”

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