Americans seeking inspirational health news coverage beyond COVID

by | May 13, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

New research from the Harris Poll and healthcare-focused integrated comms agency GCI Health reveals that 70 percent of Americans feel the COVID-19 pandemic has made them a stronger, more resilient person, and 62 percent find that social distancing mandates have given them time to take control of their health, such as eating healthy, exercising and sleeping more/better.

The jointly released COVID-19 Health Impact Surveyis a proprietary research initiative designed to better understand how Americans, especially those living with or caring for someone with underlying health conditions, are coping during the pandemic and how the healthcare industry can help address their needs.

What kind of health media coverage are people seeking?

The national survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, including 1,300 people with chronic illnesses, revealed that 40 percent of Americans want to see stories of hope and inspiration (41 percent and 39 percent, respectively), and that people managing a chronic condition are more likely than those who are not to want to hear about how to be better prepared for emergencies (47 percent), tips for improving mental wellbeing (46 percent), stories of hope (44 percent) or information on alternative medicine (32 percent).

“On the heels of new data showing how the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation is improving dramatically, these new findings indicate an opportunity to offer support in people’s evolving health journeys,” said Rob Jekielek, managing director of The Harris Poll, in a news release. “Furthermore, yet to be released data indicates that people living with chronic conditions view the pharmaceutical industry more favorably than those who are not managing a condition.”

Americans seeking inspirational health news coverage beyond COVID

Not everyone is experiencing the pandemic in the same way

Among people living with a chronic illness, about half (48 percent) felt that there was the right amount of information available to them about COVID-19, while 33 percent felt there was too much and 13 percent felt there wasn’t enough. Similarly, nearly two-thirds (66 percent) felt overwhelmed by news coverage of the topic. Additionally, half of Americans (52 percent) reported having had difficulty finding health information on anything else because of coronavirus coverage and 93 percent reported interest in non-COVID related content.

“Throughout this period, the healthcare industry has been striving for unprecedented innovation to fight COVID-19,” said Wendy Lund, CEO of GCI Health, in the release. “Information that is communicated in authentic ways with a more empathetic, supportive and grateful tone—and that balances the negative news around COVID-19—will be well received. There is a clear desire, especially among those managing chronic conditions for non-COVID-related content, and this is an important time for the industry to adapt and rethink communications strategies.”

Additional findings from the research:

  • More than 2 in 5 Americans (44 percent) have cancelled/postponed medical appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Patients have experienced clear impacts on their health due to the coronavirus
    • Over half (53 percent) have had an appointment cancelled/postponed.
    • Nearly 2 in 5 (39 percent) have felt more anxious than usual.
  • Very few have made a plan in the event their caregiver gets coronavirus and is no longer able to take care of them (6 percent patients; 5 percent caregivers).
  • 83 percent are inspired by how people are coming together in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 7 in 10 Americans (70 percent) feel experiencing this pandemic has made them a stronger, more resilient person.
  • While 4 in 5 Americans (80 percent) feel like their life is on hold right now, nearly 2/3 (65 percent) say they are constantly thinking about what they are going to do once the pandemic is over.
  • Judgement is certainly top of mind. Many admit to judging those not following social distancing mandates (64 percent), and over a third (36 percent) worry they are getting judged themselves every time they leave the house.
  • While many feel there is the right amount of information available to them during the pandemic, patients and caregivers are most likely to say there is too little information about how to continue managing chronic health conditions if they were to get coronavirus (19 percent), how to continue to manage chronic health conditions during the pandemic (17 percent), or managing conditions in general (15 percent).

The COVID-19 Health Impact Survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll in partnership with GCI Health from April 14-16, 2020 among 2,033 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter