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Pandemic had huge impact on medical appointments – survey

Some people postponed routine health appointments because of Covid-19 (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Almost a third of people postponed dental appointments and more than a fifth delayed routine visits to the doctor because of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.

Results from Narrative Research Bermuda showed that most patients would reschedule but some said they wanted to wait until “it is safer”.

The results were released after Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, told the House of Assembly last month that there was a decline in annual health check-ups and preventive care since the onset of Covid-19.

Narrative Research Bermuda said: “The pandemic has made an enormous impact on the lives of people worldwide, affecting even routine visits to healthcare providers.

“Results from a recent survey confirm that Bermuda is no exception, with sizeable minorities of residents reporting that they have avoided or postponed such appointments.

“Overall, three in ten residents (29 per cent) postponed a routine dentist appointment, two in ten (22 per cent) delayed a routine doctor appointment or check-up, with an equal proportion delaying a routine eye exam.

“Over one in ten (13 per cent) have delayed a physiotherapy appointment, while one in ten (11 per cent) have put off a regular counselling appointment.”

The results were from an online study that involved 380 members of the research company’s panel of adult residents, who were questioned as part of the Bermuda Omnibus survey carried out from March 3 to 14.

Narrative Research Bermuda said: “While many of these appointments are simply routine, it is unclear the long-term effects that these decisions may lead to in the population.

“Examining differences across demographics, younger residents are more likely to have postponed routine physiotherapy appointments as well as regular counselling appointments.

“Additionally, female respondents are more likely to have postponed a routine eye or dentist appointment.

“Among those who postponed these healthcare visits, a majority believe that their appointments will be rescheduled within the next six months.

“Not to be overlooked, however, is the fact that there are significant proportions of residents who are unsure as to when they will reschedule their counselling (46 per cent) and physiotherapy (40 per cent) appointments, stating that they are waiting until it is safer to do so.”

The results showed that of those who postponed routine dentist or doctor appointments or check-ups, 9 per cent said they planned to reschedule “as soon as it is safer”.

Ms Wilson told MPs last month: “Compared with the pre-Covid fiscal year of 2018-2019, Bermuda has experienced a drop in annual check-ups with new patients.

“In the 18 to 39-year-old demographic, new patient preventive care check-ups plunged an average of 24 per cent between 2019-20 and 2021-22.

“For those between the ages 40 and 64 years old, there was a 14 per cent decline on average in new patient check-ups, while 65-year-olds have remained diligent.”

Ms Wilson said: “A slide in diligence is apparent with mammograms as well, where there was an average decrease of 7 per cent in screenings over the same period.

“This is disturbing in view of the fact that, for the first time in 2020, the WHO identified breast cancer as the most common cancer worldwide.”

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Published June 27, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated June 27, 2022 at 7:59 am)

Pandemic had huge impact on medical appointments – survey

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