Research News

CUPID Covid-19 National Survey finds Parents' Covid Fears prevent Doctor Visits

  • 30 June, 2020


Researchers from the UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Education and Innovation in Health Systems (IRIS) conducted a national survey to assess parents’ experience of seeking healthcare for their children during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The CUPID COVID-19 National Parents Survey found 34% of parents needed to access healthcare for their child during lockdown but 22% of them decided not to access the healthcare needed over concerns about Covid-19.

When asked about their concerns in accessing healthcare during the lockdown, 68% of parents were concerned about contracting Covid-19, 30% felt services would be too busy and there would be too long a wait, and 18% believed the Government advice was to stay away.

Of those who did access healthcare for their child, 56% had a face-to-face consultation with a GP and 49% had a video or telephone consultation. 13% attended the emergency department, while 5% said they accessed another service. 

In terms of finding information about healthcare during the lockdown, 66% of parents said they relied on official government sources (65% turned to HSE sources), while, 29% of parents sought information from experts on social media platforms or other online sources.

Project leads Dr Emma Nicholson and Dr Thérѐse McDonnellUCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, said: “The results indicate parents’ felt hesitant about using healthcare services for their children during the lockdown period, and a proportion avoided accessing necessary healthcare. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 5 understood the official public health advice was to stay away from health services. This has implications for public health messaging as the Covid-19 pandemic plays out. Decision makers will need to ensure messaging is clear and does not encourage avoidance behaviour, which can have severe consequences for the health of children, particularly those with complex conditions or particular health needs.”

The survey was conducted at the end of May with a sample of 1,044 parents living throughout Ireland and forms part of a wider 12 month study being carried out to assess the impact of Covid-19 on accessing paediatric emergency healthcare, to understand how the health seeking behaviour of parents may have altered due to the pandemic and to identify how any barriers to accessing care can be removed.

The CUPID COVID-19 project is funded by the Health Research Board in conjunction with the Irish Research Council under the Government’s Covid-19 Rapid Response call.

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*CUPID: Children’s unscheduled primary and emergency care in Ireland.

UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Education and Innovation in Health Systems (UCD IRIS Centre) is engaged in interdisciplinary and intersectoral research, with patient and public engagement, for informing the collaborative design of health systems interventions and professional development programmes, as well as contributing to methodological innovation. 

The HRB-IRC rapid response mechanism funds research that will provide evidence for the national and global efforts to deal with the virus outbreak. The research priorities of this call are aligned with the WHO R&D Blueprint and informed by the Global Infectious Disease Collaboration for International Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). The scope of this funding call covers medical countermeasures, health service readiness, and social and policy countermeasures to COVID-19.