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Review Article

SRP. 2020; 11(12): 649-654

Avoiding medical visits even when needed during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional survey from Saudi Arabia

Bandar Alsaif, Fahad D. Algahtani, Sehar-un-Nisa Hassan and Rafat Zrieq.

Background: Seeking medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic became a controversial issue due to increased vulnerability and fear of being infected (COVID-19). There is a lack of empirical evidence about factors associated with avoiding medical visits during the first wave of the pandemic in KSA. Therefore, this study aims to determine the rate of avoiding medical visits and associated factors during the first wave of the pandemic in KSA.
Methods: 754 participants from various KSA regions responded to an online survey questionnaire that collected data on background variables, testing and diagnosis with COVID-19, chronic medical conditions, and presence of symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Chi-square test and binary logistic regression were used to assess the predictive role of various factors in avoiding medical care.
Results: More than half (55%) of the participants avoided medical visits during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic due to fear of catching the infection. Females and married were more likely (OR=1.46; 95% CI: 1.09-1.95) and (OR=1.41; 95% CI: 1.04-1.92) to avoided medical visits than males and unmarried, respectively. Participants who tested or diagnosed for COVID-19 were less likely to avoid medical visits (OR=0.58; 95% CI: 0.39-0.88) and (OR=0.47; 95% CI: 0.26-0.85) respectively. Respondents with and without chronic medical conditions were equally likely to avoid medical care (p>.05). Those who reported symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression were more likely to avoid medical despite when it was needed (OR=1.62; 95% CI: 1.19-2.19); (OR=1.66; 95% CI: 1.22-2.26) and (OR=1.40; 95% CI: 1.04-1.87) respectively.
Conclusions: Public health campaigns should emphasize the importance of visiting health centers; and normalize psychological reactions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to mitigate the negative impact on health status. Health system should also be prepared to accommodate the consequences of delayed health visits.

Key words: COVID-19 pandemic, Medical care avoidance, General Health, Psychological reactions,

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