The 45 and Up Study’s COVID Insights surveys are providing valuable information about the health and wellbeing of older Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic
By September 2021, we had sent out three surveys to more than 30,000 participants of the 45 and Up Study, exploring questions about mental health, lifestyle, physical activity, access to health services, and more.
Results of Surveys 1-3
Thanks to the generosity of 45 and Up Study participants, we’ve collected critical data and insights that are helping to guide policy and health services.
Here’s what we have learnt from the first three surveys:
Around 16% of survey respondents missed or delayed a healthcare appointment in the previous month, most commonly a dentist (53%) or GP (32%) appointment. 65% of those hadn’t yet sought another appointment. The reason for missing or delaying healthcare was most commonly because it was not deemed urgent (39%), although 21% cited fear of catching COVID.
Missed cancer screening is a particular concern, with 9% of women under 75 saying they missed breast screening due to the pandemic, half of whom had still not caught up by the time they were surveyed.
The news on mental health is mixed: while 94% of respondents report their quality of life as good to excellent, 9% were intensely lonely. Around a third of those surveyed said their mental health had worsened due to the pandemic, up from 10% in a survey carried out earlier in the year. Financial issues were a major concern, with 32% worried that their money wouldn’t last and 12% never or rarely having money left over at the end of the month and 3% concerned about becoming homeless.
Attitudes to vaccination
Understanding attitudes to vaccination has been a critical concern during Australia’s vaccination rollout. The most recent COVID Insights survey (carried out between June and September) found that 90% of participants felt the COVID-19 vaccines were either moderately or very safe. More than two-thirds (69%) of those not yet vaccinated said they intended to get the vaccine.
Survey data in action
Data from the COVID Insights surveys have already been used by governments to fill important information gaps and support decisions. Importantly, the information collected, along with other data available through the 45 and Up Study, will also be used into the future to understand the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of the population.