Americans Avoid Seeking Medical Care During Pandemic, Survey Shows

85% are concerned about contracting COVID-19 while at the doctor’s office

A Cleveland Clinic survey finds that just 52% of Americans reached out to a doctor or sought medical care after experiencing a concerning health issue during the COVID-19 outbreak. When it comes to patients with heart disease, that number increased to 63%.

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“Too many people are avoiding care because they’re worried about COVID-19 in hospitals and doctors’ offices. It’s not surprising, but as a physician, it is very concerning. It shouldn’t be this way,” says Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, MD.

Majority of Americans are avoiding seeking medical care

The online survey was conducted between November 14 and December 1. The general population sample consisted of 1,000 Americans over the age of 18, and was weighted to be nationally representative based on age, gender, ethnicity, region, urban vs. rural, household income and educational attainment. The survey was conducted as part of Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute’s “Love your Heart” consumer education campaign in celebration of American Heart Month. 

According to the survey, the majority of Americans – approximately 85% – are concerned about contracting COVID-19 when seeking medical treatment. Instead, they are turning to the internet or friends and family for informal medical guidance rather than a healthcare provider. This was true even though 32% of Americans – and 53% of heart disease patients – reported feeling at least one troubling symptom during the pandemic, such as increased blood pressure, dizziness, shortness of breath or increased blood sugar levels.

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Medical facilities, including Cleveland Clinic, have precautions in place to ensure the safety of patients and caregivers.

“It is crucial that patients do not delay care because seeking care in a timely manner leads to better outcomes and overall health. The health and safety of our patients and caregivers is always our top priority. Throughout the pandemic, we have taken steps to increase safety by limiting visitors and screening them for potential COVID-19 symptoms, providing essential personal protective equipment for caregivers, practicing physical distancing, expanding testing capabilities and continuing to clean our facilities extensively,” Dr. Mihaljevic states.