New research from MyHealthTeams reveals confusion and concerns, pointing to the need for patient education among high-risk populations
SAN FRANCISCO — February 24, 2021 — MyHealthTeams, creator of the largest and fastest-growing social networks for people facing chronic health conditions, today unveiled survey findings from 2,627 people diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis (MS) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Among this chronic condition population that remains at high risk for severe cases of COVID-19, 36 percent say they are unlikely to get or are unsure about getting the vaccine when it becomes available to them. Underpinning this reluctance is a lack of clear communication and advice from medical experts who treat their disease, with only 11 percent of respondents reporting they’ve been contacted by their doctor about the vaccine.
“About a third of Americans with an underlying health condition – 15% of the entire population – have concerns about getting the COVID vaccine,” said Eric Peacock, cofounder and CEO of MyHealthTeams. “Until they hear a specialist in their disease address five of the biggest concerns they have, they are unlikely to get vaccinated soon.”
Top questions and concerns about the vaccine among those surveyed include:
- Possible side effects of the vaccine for people with my disease (55%)
- Long-term safety of the vaccine for people with my disease (49%)
- Will the vaccine interfere with my medications? (47%)
- Will the vaccine worsen my underlying chronic disease or symptoms? (45%)
- Will the vaccine be effective given my condition? (39%)
“Nearly 1 in 2 people living with a chronic health condition is worried that the vaccine will interfere with their current treatment or exacerbate the symptoms of their underlying disease,” said Peacock. “Condition-specific guidance from trusted medical experts is essential to creating confidence in the vaccine and in the personal decision to take it, but 89% of patients are not having conversations with their doctors about the vaccine.”
As states across America begin to open vaccine eligibility to more patients with chronic conditions, there is an urgent need for cardiologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, neurologists and primary care physicians to proactively educate their patients about the benefits, safety, and urgency of getting vaccinated.
This survey was conducted online from mid-January to mid-February 2021 among members of five social networks – MyHeartDiseaseTeam, DiabetesTeam, MyObesityTeam, MyRATeam, and MyMSTeam – which have a combined 501,878 registered members. 2,627 members completed the survey.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) recommends that people with underlying health conditions get the vaccine.
Additional Findings: Physical, emotional and financial impacts of COVID-19
Additional themes explored in the survey include the physical, emotional and financial impacts of COVID-19. 33 percent of respondents reported their underlying health condition has worsened during the pandemic. Specific triggers of worsening symptoms over these 11 months include:
- Fatigue (71%)
- Depression / Anxiety (68%)
- Isolation from family and friends (56%)
- Cancelled procedures/tests (35%)
- Too afraid to go the ER (21%)
What’s more, 30 percent of respondents reported they’ve stopped exercising since the pandemic started. 22 percent say they’ve started experiencing other health issues. And 44 percent have gained weight.
Furthermore, 37 percent of survey respondents report they’ve experienced COVID-driven financial hardship since the start of the pandemic. This, of course, contributes to the increased stress among 65 percent of respondents whose conditions have worsened.
“To counteract the wide-ranging, compounding impacts of the pandemic, we must arm people living with chronic health conditions with information that will help them advocate for their health and make decisions with their doctor that are right for them,” said Peacock.
Across MyHealthTeams’ 40 condition-specific patient social networks, the company is creating and curating content from medical experts that addresses member priorities and answers hot-topic questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and maintaining health and wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond.
MyHealthTeams believes that if you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, it should be easy to find and connect with others like you. MyHealthTeams creates social networks that provide support and information for people living with a chronic health condition. Millions of people have joined one of the company’s 40 highly engaged communities focusing on the following conditions: Alzheimer’s, asthma, autism, breast cancer, COPD, chronic pain, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, depression, diabetes (type 2), eczema, endometriosis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, food allergies, heart disease, hemophilia, hidradenitis suppurativa, HIV, hyperhidrosis, irritable bowel syndrome, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, migraines, multiple sclerosis, myeloma, myeloproliferative neoplasms, narcolepsy, obesity, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, Parkinson’s, PCOS, psoriasis, pulmonary hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal muscular atrophy, spondylitis, and vitiligo. MyHealthTeams’ social networks are available in 13 countries.