Lung India

RESEARCH LETTER
Year
: 2020  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 282--283

Perceptions on COVID19: A ground-level analysis to guide public policy


Ravindra M Mehta1, Ruhee Mehta2, Arjun L Balaji1, Hetal Mehta1,  
1 Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 SKCHEC School, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Ravindra M Mehta
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru, Karnataka
India




How to cite this article:
Mehta RM, Mehta R, Balaji AL, Mehta H. Perceptions on COVID19: A ground-level analysis to guide public policy.Lung India 2020;37:282-283


How to cite this URL:
Mehta RM, Mehta R, Balaji AL, Mehta H. Perceptions on COVID19: A ground-level analysis to guide public policy. Lung India [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 5 ];37:282-283
Available from: http://www.lungindia.com/text.asp?2020/37/3/282/283733


Full Text



 Introduction



The COVID19 pandemic has swept the globe in a short span threatening the entire human race. India is on the threshold of a human disaster, with a huge population vulnerable to the onslaught of the virus.

Multiple measures to tackle this pandemic include “social distancing (SD)” – a country-wide lockdown being its advanced version. At this point, extensive and efficient SD is the most important preventive measure. SD requires extensive public cooperation and is more than a government directive. Fundamentally, it is in contravention to Aristotle's basic tenet of “Man is a social animal” and has economic and hardship consequences. Beyond SD, a major issue facing health care is the preparedness for the large influx of patients who may need inpatient care. The psychological impact of this unprecedented pandemic is another major issue, as social media makes a large amount of information available to the common man in a very short span of time.

As government, systems, and health care try to battle this crisis, a very important aspect is the perception of the layman in India. The absence of ground-level data has created a lacuna to guide measures and target resources necessary to tackle COVID19. We conducted a survey to collect ground-level data on the basic perceptions of people, confidence of current health-care measures, and compliance of the above during this COVID pandemic.

 Methods



This random selection online all-India community survey using “Google docs” was initiated and implemented by a high school student with the help of doctor parents to assess the above aspects. A questionnaire was circulated to participants randomly over 3 days (March 20, 2020, to March 23, 2020) on the perceptions of the general population on the COVID19 pandemic. The respondents also answered questions on the psychological and economic effects of COVID pandemic, perception on current health-care measures/delivery, and compliance with recommended preventive measures.

 Results



We received responses from 4557 people over 3 days. The results are presented in [Table 1].{Table 1}

This study had respondents predominantly from the middle/higher socioeconomic class. The following observations were noted, and corresponding implications are mentioned: (observation – O, implication – I)

O-1: In an educated middle/upper-class population, 9% still do not feel that COVID19 is a real threat, 15% are not scared, 15% do not believe that SD/segregation is worth it, and 32% are not following the recommended measuresI-1. These are the weak links and potential failure points of current measures. Efforts to address these groups must be taken to address the pandemicO-2: Psychological aspects (anxiety, fear, and worry): 85% scared, 40% feel hopelessness, 36% feel afraid of the deluge of information, and 17% do not understand itI-2: We need to do a better job to address communication, information overload, and allay anxiety and build confidence. Hopelessness is a possible indicator of depression and needs to be addressedO-3: 22% do not have faith in the current measures, 44% are financially affected, and 47% do not have confidence in India's medical infrastructure to handle thisI-3: These people need on-ground action to both implement and reassure that the system is ready to handle health-care requirementsO-4: 60% would prefer self-paid treatment at a private health care over free treatment at a government facilityI-4: We need a comprehensive plan involving both the government and private facilities to take care of the health-care need during this pandemic, as a significant population prefers private health care.

This survey is the first of its kind with sizable numbers to reflect the thinking of a middle/upper-class Indian population. This is happening in a situation of SD/lockdown and massive mobilization to prepare health care for the inpatients who may follow. From a planning and implementation viewpoint, it provides valuable information to guide ground-level policy for systems and administrators.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.