Panel A

Health Literacy and COVID-19: International Perspectives on the Public Response to a Pandemic

Background: COVID-19 has become an unprecedented public health threat in modern times. Beyond consequences to personal health associated with acquiring the virus, the impact of the pandemic may likely extend to non-COVID-19 outcomes as an individual’s ability to self-manage health and chronic conditions during and after a pandemic may be compromised for several reasons. First, multiple virus surges led local authorities in countries across the globe to introduce community-wide restrictions that have limited or changed access to in-person healthcare services. Second, fear of COVID-19 might also have drive patients to avoid seeking medical care, even in acute circumstances. Third, recommended social distancing practices, and disruptions to daily routines may alter adults’ lifestyle (e.g. alcohol/substance use, physical activity, diet, sleep). Fourth, the pandemic has devastated the U.S. economy and many individuals’ socioeconomic circumstances - affecting healthcare coverage and access. Finally, cumulative stress, social isolation, grief and loss due to COVID-19 may have a sustained impact on mental health and well-being, the ability to adhere to treatment, self-manage chronic conditions, maintain functional status and achieve optimal health outcomes.

Objective: With this proposed panel, we bring together researchers from four different countries with harmonized data collection centered around adults’ awareness, attitudes, and behaviors related to COVID-19 across a range of time points – from the very beginning of the outbreak and throughout the following surges a year later. This includes Australia (McCaffrey), Denmark (Nielsen), United Kingdom (Scotland; Fawns-Ritchie) and the United States (Paasche-Orlow (moderator), Wolf).

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