A new National Health Watch report, conducted by our team here at Webdoctor.ie, has revealed how both our mental and physical health has been impacted by the pandemic. Interestingly, the report also clearly illustrates how our attitudes, as a nation, have changed towards virtual healthcare, with a whopping 95% of people stating that they are now comfortable seeking treatment via an online doctor or GP service.
What Is the National Health Watch Report?
In March 2022, our award-winning online doctor team surveyed over 1600 people across Ireland. The report delves into a variety of areas, including physical health, diet & nutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption, and mental health. In addition, the report reveals key insights into the changing attitudes around digital healthcare, demonstrating how we have grown to embrace telehealth and used it in conjunction with traditional healthcare resources to provide a holistic approach to caring for our health.
Ireland’s Changing Attitude Towards Digital Healthcare
As mentioned above, the National Health Watch Report found that 95% of people surveyed are now comfortable seeking treatment via an online doctor service. In addition, a further 60% even go so far as to say that they are more comfortable utilising online GP services in Ireland, and prefer using them when seeking treatment for general health concerns. This is closely followed by 77% of people stating that they prefer to use home-testing kits for sexual health checks, instead of attending a traditional sexual health clinic.
When asked, 90% of women stated that they would prefer an online prescription service when seeking a prescription for the contraceptive pill or patch, with just 10% stating that they would prefer an in-person GP consultation. Similarly, 83% of men would prefer an online doctor or online prescription service when seeking treatment for conditions, such as erectile dysfunction. In contrast, just 17% of men stated that they would prefer an in-person consultation with a GP.
The National Health Watch Report reveals that 1 in 4 people (23%) found that their physical health worsened during the pandemic. Whilst 59% of people still consider themselves fairly healthy, we found that 89% plan to prioritise their overall health more in the next six months. Interestingly, more people (30%) plan on doing so by spending more time outdoors with just 10% saying that they will do so by going to the gym.
Diet and Nutrition
As we know, diet and nutrition play a vital role in our physical and mental health and as many as 42% of participants stated that they planned to improve their overall health through their diet and nutritional habits in the coming six months. We also found that whilst 89% of participants consume meat as part of their diet, almost half (45%) said that they would consider reducing their meat intake or becoming a pescetarian. Of those, a further 10% said that they would consider moving to a completely plant-based or vegan diet.
Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
As part of the National Health Watch survey, we found that almost one-quarter of participants (24.5%) consume alcohol at least once per week, with almost 20% of people choosing to drink 2-3 times per week. In addition, 22% said that they prefer to consume alcohol just once per month, and 15% prefer not to drink at all.
Interestingly, 38% of people stated that they felt their alcohol intake didn’t change at all, over the course of the pandemic. However, 40% stated that their intake actually decreased over the last 12 months, and 24% felt that it had increased. In addition, 40% of respondents stated that they plan to reduce their alcohol consumption over the next six months.
Intriguingly, just 10% of people surveyed stated that they smoke on a daily basis, whilst 14% smoke occasionally and 78% do not smoke at all. Of those who smoke, three quarters stated that they plan to reduce their consumption or quit in the coming six months.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Through various lockdowns, restrictions, and periods of self-isolation, the Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on our mental well-being which is reflected in the results of our survey. Almost 40% of respondents reported that their mental health suffered since the beginning of the pandemic. However, just 22% of this cohort sought help from a healthcare professional to address this decline. Conversely, we found that given the choice, 87.5% of people state that they would be ‘very’ to ‘fairly’ comfortable seeking treatment for their mental health via an online doctor consultation.
Webdoctor.ie Comments on These Findings
David Crimmins CEO of Webdoctor.ie online doctor service says:
“It is great to see that so many people are planning to prioritise their health this year, all of which can be supported both virtually and traditionally. The pandemic has encouraged people to find new ways to manage their health, with many utilising telehealth services for the first time. As a result, attitudes towards telehealth services have transformed over the past two years, as indicated in this report. It’s interesting that in addition to demonstrating an overwhelmingly positive response, there is now often a preference to utilise digital health options as opposed to attending an in-clinic setting.”
David also states, “It’s clear from this report that we have also realised there is so much more we can do to look after our general health now, post-pandemic. For example, it’s interesting to see that people want to spend more time outdoors as opposed to going to the gym and that we are prioritising our mental health just as much as our physical wellbeing.”