Some vulnerable groups in society have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than less vulnerable groups. These include young people (up to 24 years) who have physical or mental problems or come from low-income families. This has been confirmed by a Nivel study on the health consequences for groups where increased vulnerability was expected.
The study by the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel) shows that risk factors for mental and physical problems due to COVID-19 do in fact play a role. For example, young women are more likely than young men to contact their GP regarding mental health problems and anxiety. The same applies to young people from low-income families. The study also shows that young people with a migration background are more likely to contact their GP regarding social problems, coughing and tiredness. Young people with pre-existing mental health problems are also more likely to experience shortness of breath. This is less common among young people with pre-existing physical problems.
Incomplete overview due to limited accessibility of care
Limited access to GP-based care as well as healthcare avoidance resulted in lower healthcare utilisation in 2020 compared to 2019. Although this decrease leads to limited data on the perceived health problems of young people during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the results do offer insight into the impact of the pandemic on physical and mental health. The Nivel study relied on data from general practitioners and data provided by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
Research programme on impact of prolonged crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a crisis that is lasting a long time. Little is known about the impact of slow-moving, long-term crises. Over the course of a five-year period, the GOR Network is compiling more knowledge on this topic in the Integrated Health Monitor COVID-19. The monitor compiles information once every quarter and once a year. This research is the first annual study on how COVID-19 has affected the health of people in the Netherlands. The insights from these studies will help policy-makers to take effective measures in response to the current crisis and similar situations in the future.