A new Parade Media/Cleveland Clinic/Ipsos poll finds that 48% of Americans surveyed experienced a change in their physical health, and 47% reported a shift in their mental/emotional health, as compared to before the onset COVID-19 pandemic more than one year ago.
The 2021 Healthy Now Practicing Prevention Survey of 1,000 U.S. adults revealed that women and adults ages 18-34 years old were the most likely to experience negative physical and mental health effects vs. prior to the pandemic. The survey also noted that while 81% of respondents rated their overall health as good or excellent, a sizeable proportion struggle with making healthy food choices, getting enough sleep and loneliness and isolation. Many Americans also lacked knowledge of key information about their personal health.
More key findings from the April 2021 survey:
PANDEMIC EFFECTS: DESPITE CHALLENGES, SOME MANAGE TO THRIVE
- Two in five (42%) say they’ve developed unhealthy habits during the pandemic, particularly young adults (59% of those ages 18-34) and parents with children living at home (60%).
- One in two say that they have been feeling more stressed, anxious and/or depressed during the pandemic (50%), and 57% have had to take a break from the news and/or social media to help reduce stress and/or anxiety. These figures increase to two thirds among young adults (under the age of 35).
- One-third (34%) of respondents say they have sought or have considered seeking help from a doctor or therapist for emotional support during the pandemic, with those ages 18-34 (58%), parents with children living in the home (47%) and men (37%) among the most likely to agree.
- 27% reported that they have less confidence in their resilience in challenging times compared to before the pandemic. Men (32%), those under the age of 35 (41%) and parents (39%) were more likely to agree to this statement.
- Surprisingly, though, 22% say their physical health has improved compared with prior to the pandemic, and 18% have seen an improvement in their mental health in that same period.
“The COVID-19 pandemic shifted into sharp focus the importance of proactively taking measures to preserve and protect our physical and mental health,” says Lisa Delaney, SVP/Chief Content Officer of Parade Media. “While some have been able to thrive, many others are suffering. By understanding who is most vulnerable—and determining where they struggle in the areas most important to their overall wellness—we can help people optimize their health, be better prepared in the face of future public health challenges, and improve their wellbeing and quality of life.”
To that end, the survey also polled Americans to see how well they are doing when it comes to making the choices and adopting the behaviors proven to improve their physical and mental health.
STAYING ACTIVE, STRUGGLING WITH DIET
- Respondents fared well on measures of physical activity, with more than two thirds (66%) saying they walk at least 30 minutes a day.
- While 68% admit they often/sometimes sit more than 6 hours/day, just as many (68%) say they take breaks every 30 minutes to get up and move around.
- More struggle with making healthy dietary choices. While high percentages said they try to eat more vegetables (81%) and choose healthy snacks (66%), less than half (46%) reported eating at least one green vegetable per day. Seven in ten (69%) said that when they snack, they treat themselves to whatever they like.
- Just over half of Americans believe that a meal isn’t satisfying unless it contains meat (52%). Only 22% eat salmon, tuna or other fish (not fried) a few times a week or more.
SLEEP ISSUES PREVALENT, BUT MANY SNUB SOLUTIONS
- 46% of respondents said they get too little sleep, with 53% reporting that they have trouble staying or falling asleep, and 56% agreeing that they feel sleepy during the day even though they sleep during the night.
- But 40%, admitted that they know what they need to do to get better sleep, but don’t do it. A considerable percentage of people engage in sleep-sabotaging behaviors: 69% sleep with their cellphone in their room, 59% watch TV or streaming services in bed before sleep and 47% read, work or study in bed before sleep.
TRUST IN HEALTHCARE HIGH; PATIENTS’ HEALTH KNOWLEDGE LOW
- While 37% of respondents said they delayed regular medical care during the pandemic, 57% reported feeling safer seeking care now as compared to six months ago.
- 65% said they’re up to date on health screenings recommended for their age and gender.
- Healthcare providers stand out as the number one source for health information (62%), well ahead of healthcare organizations’ websites (35%), television news (18%), and news websites (18%) which round out the top responses.
- Most respondents reported having a positive relationship with their healthcare provider, including roughly nine in ten who said their primary healthcare provider listens to and supports them (93%)
- Significant percentages of respondents, though, admitted not knowing key health information about themselves. Two in five reported that they do not know their last blood pressure reading (43%), and more than half—55%–said they don’t know their last blood cholesterol reading. And even higher percentages admitted that they don’t know their BMI, or body mass index (60%) or last blood sugar reading (62%).
“I am pleased to see that Americans are turning to their health care providers for information, especially as we navigate this pandemic which has affected our lives and health in so many ways. It’s also encouraging that the far majority of Americans are comfortable sharing sensitive health issues with their doctor,” said Dr. Neha Vyas, a primary care physician at Cleveland Clinic, who helped advise the survey. “I also want to encourage anyone who has delayed medical care during the pandemic to make themselves appointments. Our hospitals and medical offices are safe and putting off care can lead to much more serious health issues down the road.”
THE CHALLENGE OF STAYING POSITIVE, CONNECTED
- While 81% reported being optimistic about the future, almost one third (32%) said they get angry easily, and over a quarter (28%) said at the end of the day, they usually feel like more bad things have happened than good.
- 37% said they often go a full day without speaking to someone in real life or by phone, particularly those under the age of 35 (45%).
- Six in ten turn to social media platforms to communicate with friends and family through likes and comments (61%). But there is a downside: Another three in ten (30%) noted that they often feel left out, depressed or inadequate after spending time on social media.
Find full Parade/Cleveland Clinic Healthy Now survey results and related content at parade.com/healthynowsurvey.
Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.