Physicians see pandemic delay care, diagnosis and treatment

Physicians around the world have seen patients put their health at greater risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
10 March 2022
office visit, delay of care
Franco Esposito

Head of Business Development, Profiles Division, UK

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have warned of potential delays in medical care globally. In September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. issued a report that confirmed these fears. People are avoiding seeing their primary care physicians (PCP).

With this in mind, Kantar surveyed 1,253 primary care physicians from our global physician panel to explore if a delay in care, diagnosis and treatment was an ongoing problem directly linked to the pandemic. The study offers insight into this unique pandemic-based phenomenon.

Care delays are global

Across the globe, primary care physicians (PCPs) are seeing patients delay care – including the delay of office visits, confirmed diagnosis and start of treatment. The reasons for these delays in service vary. In part, it may be because people feel that caring for those with the coronavirus continues to monopolize medical care. Others are acutely aware of the risk of exposure to the virus despite the precautions taken by healthcare facilities and practices.

Delays in patient office visits

When it comes to patients delaying office visits, PCPs in Italy and Spain are reporting it the most. Overall, 44% PCPs indicated that their patients frequently delayed an office visit. Another 27% stated that patients very often missed their visits, and only1% said they never did.

delay of care due to pandemic

Ability to provide a timely diagnosis gets hampered

When asked how office visit delays impact timely diagnosis, physicians in Germany and France noted the shortest delays, with 74% and 72% reporting the usual delay is less than 3 months, respectively.

The U.S. and Spain report some of the longest delays. 7% of U.S. and 6% of Spanish physicians are experiencing delays of longer than 6 months.

delay of care due to pandemic

Start of treatment slows

With treatment delays for a confirmed diagnosis, the UK, the U.S., Spain, and Italy stood out.

German (81%) and French (76%) PCPs again stated they are seeing the shortest delays. Physicians in the UK (6%), U.S. (5%) and Spain (5%) reported the longest delays of 6+ months.

delay of care due to pandemic

Types of care delayed

Kantar also asked what type of care was most affected by delays. Globally, physician respondents indicate “preventative screenings” were neglected at the highest rate (81%). This was the most flagged response across all countries. Next was “wellness visits” at 79%.

Mental health visits (46%) and prescription refills (1 in 4) were also common types of care patients, globally, are delaying.

"Emergency visits” were reported to being the least impacted, by just 21% of physicians.

delay of care due to pandemic

About this study

This research was conducted online using 1,253 primary care physician respondents from the Kantar Profiles Healthcare Panel, part of the Kantar Profiles Audience Network between February 15-21, 2022. Markets included: US (286), UK (274), Germany (86), Spain (266), Italy (216) and France (125).

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Find more about this study, learn about our Healthcare data collection services or our proprietary Physician Panel, contact us.

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