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Survey confirms COVID-19 pandemic impacted ability of COPD patients and informal caregivers to receive and administer care, but brought increased awareness to the disease

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced findings from its first ever World COPD Day survey ahead of the awareness day on November 18.

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Philips surveyed more than 4,000 adults in China, India, Russia and the U.S. to gather insights on global awareness of respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced overall perceptions of respiratory health. Findings reveal that while the pandemic created unique challenges for the COPD community, it also increased the general population’s awareness for the condition and encouraged alternative care options, such as telehealth.  

According to the Center for Disease Control, adults with COPD are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 [1]. Philips survey shows that while action to improve respiratory health to combat the respiratory virus is on the rise for all respondents, significant differences exist between how COPD and non-COPD populations seek care.

The survey results show that more than ever, respiratory health – and taking action to improve it – is a priority, but that the impacts of the pandemic have been especially felt by the COPD community who already experience respiratory insufficiency.

Huiling Zhang

Head of Medical Office for Connected Care at Philips “Due to the nature of the COVID-19 virus, respiratory health has become a daily conversation across the globe,” said Huiling Zhang, Head of Medical Office for Connected Care at Philips. “Despite impacting millions of people around the world, COPD isn’t talked about as often as other chronic conditions like heart disease. We conducted this survey to shed light on the unique burdens and stresses that COPD patients face every day, intensified during this time. The survey results show that more than ever, respiratory health – and taking action to improve it – is a priority, but that the impacts of the pandemic have been especially felt by the COPD community who already experience respiratory insufficiency.” 

COPD patients facing care challenges throughout COVID-19 

For those living with COPD, the pandemic impacted the care they required and received. 56% of COPD patients report COVID-19 has made it difficult for them to get COPD treatment, 58% report that managing their COPD during the pandemic has been completely overwhelming, and 68% report they worry much more than they used to about their chronic condition because of the pandemic. COVID-19 also presented challenges for informal caregivers of COPD patients, with 79% specifically citing the pandemic as the factor that influenced the amount of care they provided to the COPD patient. 

Emphasis on respiratory health, virtual care options increases

With concern growing around in-person care, willingness for telehealth visits has been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic. Particularly for wellness visits (56% to 62%), regular check-ins for a chronic health issue (57% to 64%), and to discuss a new health issue (57% to 63%). This increase was surprisingly more prevalent among the non-COPD population, with 55% willing to use telehealth to receive treatment for a chronic health issue before COVID-19, now up to 62%. Additionally, COPD patients looked for better ways to manage their condition because of COVID-19 (75%), such as diet, exercise, or purchasing air filtration systems.  

COPD awareness rising amid knowledge gaps

While COVID-19 may have exacerbated individual concerns for the nearly 65 million people [2] currently living with COPD, it also brought increased awareness for the chronic condition across the globe. Nearly three in five people report being more familiar with COPD now compared to prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which may be directly linked with increased education around respiratory illnesses due to the nature of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, 52% of respondents reported being familiar with COPD; that number is now up to 72%. 

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