Innovating The Health Care Experience > Fourth COVID-19 Global Impact Study

Article | February 2021

Coronavirus Impact Study Finds Uncertainty About The Future The Greatest Cause of Stress

The survey is the fourth Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Impact Study published by Cigna’s International Markets business

The latest survey data from Cigna International Markets shows that after months of pandemic-related restrictions, periodic stay-at-home orders, changing restrictions on travel and social gatherings and multiple waves of infection, people worldwide have become even more concerned about the future. According to the study, almost half of global respondents said concern for the future is currently their greatest cause of stress. 

The survey is the fourth COVID-19 Global Impact Study published by Cigna’s International Markets business and provides further insight into the global impact of the pandemic on people’s well-being around the world. 

Another common area of stress is the balance between work life and family life. More than 40% of respondents reported low well-being scores and high stress levels in both of these areas, with 14% saying their level of stress is currently unmanageable. 

“The increased levels of self-reported unmanageable stress are concerning, with stress often adversely impacting a person’s overall physical health and well-being,” said Cigna Global Employer Health, Americas CEO, Ann Asbaty. “Access to fully integrated wellness programs and well-being solutions can have a positive impact on managing whole person health.” 

In 2020, Cigna’s International Employer Assistance Program saw a 33% increase in utilization, with a 53% increase in visits to the website alone, compared to 2019.

U.S. remains upbeat despite global declines

While perceived well-being declined worldwide, respondents in the U.S. painted a more positive picture, with the well-being index improving by a notable 2.6 points. Respondents reported significant improvements in their feelings of health and well-being. 

While previous Pulse Study results showed a similar overall view on the impact of COVID-19, this report highlights the varying changes in global perception. Global regions are adapting to the new landscape differently, and these differences are influencing the views and emotional responses of people in these geographies. 

Continued interest in virtual health

The latest study results show a more lasting shift in how people manage their health. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed indicated they now care more about the health care services they have access to, and 30% say they have changed their approach to managing their mental health. Supporting that outlook, the study finds more widespread use of virtual health services, initially driven by the need to socially distance due to COVID-19, is expected to continue beyond the pandemic. 

Nearly three in five respondents (59%) said they are likely to continue using virtual health services if given the option. Additionally, 29% of respondents now view virtual health as their preferred health service option.  

“The fact that so many have transitioned seamlessly to using virtual care bodes well for the ongoing adoption of solutions that provide greater access to care beyond the pandemic,” noted Asbaty. “By offering consumers alternative ways to engage with providers, we have an opportunity to enhance not only access, but also consumers’ overall whole person health.” 

Cigna engaged more than 23,000 people across China, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States between January and October 2020, to show the changes in attitudes during the pandemic. 

For more information about the Cigna Global Impact Study, and to read the full results, click here.

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