The latest findings from the population wide survey, the Corona Citizens’ Science Study has found that 8 out of 10 people (84%) would consider installing a contact tracing app if it contributed to an easing of restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus.
The findings are from phase three of the Corona Citizens’ Science Study*, a population-wide survey conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lock down, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland.
Over 8,700 people took part in the survey which was conducted on May 6th for a period of 24 hours.
72% of respondents reported a good understanding of the measures announced by the government in regards to the phased re-opening of the country.
However, a little over half were fully clear on the guidance in relation to returning to work and the reopening of businesses.
Over 60% of respondents reported that they were feeling more anxious since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast majority worried about catching the virus or a family member catching the virus (78%) while nearly 40% were worried about other health problems and around 30% of respondents about the relaxation of restrictions and their finances.
It also found that females and younger people were feeling more anxious and ill at ease, in contrast to older respondents.
Researchers have attributed this to a greater change in circumstances for younger as opposed to older respondents. 3 out of 10 people reported postponing medical treatments, a figure consistent with similar survey findings.
10% of respondents reported to an increased level of tension in their household since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway, joint research lead said,
“The findings regarding previously surveyed topics are remaining quite consistent. It is worrying that there is a consistent level of cancelled and postponed medical appointments which will have a knock on effect and major medical issues will emerge further down the line. Interestingly, our younger respondents are reporting greater levels of anxiety than older respondents and while the pandemic is impacting all of society, it is impacting younger cohorts in very specific ways.”
Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said,
“The response from those surveyed appears to be quite positively disposed towards installing a contact tracing app, on the premise that it would lead to a lifting of restrictions.
We understand that plans are in place to roll out a contact tracing app, with an opt-in clause and it will be interesting to ascertain the depth of the digital divide nationwide with it.
Respondents are also positively disposed to the communications around the phased re-opening of the country, however it is a cause for concern that only half are clear around the return to work and reopening of businesses.”
About 31% (2,650) people have postponed medical treatment or check-ups, similar to the last wave.
Respondents said it was because the healthcare professional is not seeing any patients at the moment (56%, previous 55%); 32% (previous 39%) say they don’t want to create an extra burden; 23% (previous 26%) are worried about the risk of catching Covid-19.
About 14% had a hospital medical examination postponed (same as last time) and 7% (previous 6%) postponed an operation.
Dental appointments (35%), check-ups (36%), counselling (5%) and diabetic clinics (2.4%) were the other main categories of delayed medical appointments.
Employment/Working from home
63% of respondents were employed (previously 69%), while, similar to last times, students made up 4% and homemakers 7%.
However, a higher percentage identified as retired at 19% (previously 13%).
Of the people who were in employment (5,420), 56% are currently working from home every day; 20% on some days and 14% never worked from home.
In the previous rounds, about 45% worked from home. Similar to the previous survey, 15% indicated as an essential worker (about 1,400 respondents).
Understanding of restrictions
The government’s phased plan received an eight or higher (on a scale of 10) from 72% of respondents, which was similar to the understanding of which activities were allowed from the first phase (72%).
However, it was less clear when people could go back to work (55% gave an 8 or higher) or when businesses they needed would open up again (56%).
When asked how easily people would find it to comply with these restrictions, 78% gave an 8 or higher (10 being very easy to comply) for the 5km travel restriction; 74% for working from home and 78% gave an 8 or higher for adhering to social distancing.
Walking remains the most popular leisure activity (93%).
Indoor exercise is done by about 53% of respondents; 29% play board games; 64% do some sort of gardening and 38% (DIY).
Compared to the last time, more people are chatting in open air (69% compared to 63% and 54% previously).
Of preschool aged children (about 1,000), 87% were taken care of at home. However, when looking at differences between non-essential and essential workers, 93% were taken care of at home compared to 68% of the essential workers.
Essential workers have to rely more often on childminders (18%, up from 10% previously); family (12%) and grandparents (4%), compared to non-essential workers (respectively 4%, 3% and 1%).
There were over 1,500 parents with children in primary school. Most children (29%) have daily contact with their school teacher; 21% say it is 2-3 times a week; 47% once or less often each week.
For 3% of children there is no contact with their primary school teacher.
For secondary school parents (about 2,600), 64% of under15 and 54% of those over the age of 15 had daily contact with their teacher. 25% (under15) and 2%( over15) respectively 2-3 times a week; 11% (under 15) and 18% (over 15) once a week or less often.
Flu-like symptoms were reported by 2.5% of people , down from 3% of respondents in the last wave and 6% in the first wave.
The main symptoms reported remain the same; tired/exhaustion (66%), sore throat (48%), dry/throaty cough (28%, down from 38%), runny nose (32% down from 37%) and/or muscle pain (32% down from 38%).
This did not change much overall.
Similarly, of the people they live with, this time 10% of respondents indicated these had flu-like symptoms, which was down from 11% in the second wave and 17% previously.
Mental Health and Well-Being
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, about 61% (5,300) of respondents indicate to be more anxious; even much more anxious (14%) while 8% indicate to be less anxious.
The anxiety is mainly due to the worry of catching the virus or their family catching the virus (78%), while 37% also indicate worry about other health problems; 33% about the relaxation of restrictions; 26% about their finances or their business and 24% about working from home or their child’s schooling.
This survey again, did not show major changes in either mental health or well-being compared to the first or the second survey.
The impact of the pandemic on well-being and mental health would appear to be greater for younger as compared to older people.
This may be explained by the fact that younger people are likely to have experienced a much greater change in day-to-day living than those in the older population.
Compared to the Healthy Ireland Survey of 2016, it seems that the pandemic has had a negative impact on well-being and mental health.
The mean age was 50 (median 52) which was higher than both previous surveys.
About 23% of respondents were male and 77% female.Age groups were well represented, with about 54% of the people between 35 and 54.4% under the age of 25; 16% were 65 or older.
This older age group is better represented than previously (11% previously).Education remained high, 65% had a university degree, which was similar in the previous waves.
Dublin had the higher number of respondents with 43% (previous 41% and 38%) and Galway 16% (previously 14% and 12%, cork 8% (previous 7% and 6%) and all other counties were represented at less than 5%.
The Corona Citizens’ Science Project has been approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland.
The link to the Corona Citizens’ Science Study is available here
The Corona Citizens’ Science Study launched on Wednesday, April 8th and was open for 24 hours.
It asked questions about the impact of the measures imposed by the government starting from the ‘Containment Phase’ (February 29th); the “Delay Phase” following the March 12th announcement regarding the closure of all schools, colleges and childcare facilities and the restrictions imposed on March 27th requesting people to stay at home until April 12th, and including for at risk groups, and over 70s to “cocoon”.It was repeated on April 22nd and May 6th.