Stress is up, smoking increasing, drinking more alcohol….Americans are tapping into a variety of coping mechanisms in the coronavirus outbreak, with health on their collective minds.

Toluna and Harris Interactive are collaborating on the COVID-19 Barometer, publishing biweekly data on consumers’ views on the coronavirus pandemic.

The data here are a snapshot of consumers taken through the Toluna-Harris poll conducted among 1,047 U.S. adults between 9-20 April 2020.

The first chart shows various life-flows Americans have adopted in April, all risk factors impacting peoples’ overall health status and mental well-being.

There were demographic differences across these factors: more women felt more stressed than men, younger people were drinking and smoking more, and men exercising less and drinking more, as well.

COVID-19 consumers have also taken on actions to bolster health in the pandemic including:

  • 75% washing hands more frequently
  • 62% using products to prevent spread of germs
  • 50% taking vitamins or supplements
  • 35% exercising more frequently, and
  • 31% consuming food and drink with health benefits.

The second chart illustrates Americans’ top concerns in the COVID-19 era, top among these the impacts on society — such as effects on children’s education and the health system’s ability to withstand growing demands and pressures borne by the coronavirus pandemic. For this chart, I show the “NET concern” where I aggregated the top 3 “concern” scores from the range of 0 to 10, from “not at all concerned” to “extremely concerned”

The “hunter-gatherer” stress of getting essential supplies like food, hygiene products and medicines were top concerns for 1 in 2 people as well as the concern for getting ill or caring for a loved one who would be ill. Finally, nearly one-half of people were concerned about personal financial security.

Looking to the future, the post-COVID-19 consumer would look forward to being more health conscious (39%), going out more to eat or to the movies (36%), saving money (35%), being more optimistic (35%), treating themselves to a holiday (domestic 23%, abroad 15%), being more environmentally conscious (23%), spending more money (21%), being less materialistic (20%), or buying something of significant value (16%).

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  It’s no surprise that in a pandemic, consumers have health on their minds across a range of issues. Following the coronavirus outbreak, nearly one-half of Americans believe the U.S. health system should be improved to handle future crises; dovetailing into that sentiment, 38% of Americans said the health care system was not prepared to handle a health crisis.

On the personal level 38% believe personal health will be a bigger issue for them in the future. And, 28% plan to improve personal self-care to be better prepared.

One in four consumers also said that hospitals and physicians should offer more care via telehealth platforms.

The Toluna COVID-19 Barometer gives us a snapshot of health consumers in April 2020, with 40,000 Americans having succumbed to the virus and over 800,000 fellow health citizens having been diagnosed positive with COVID-19. The pandemic and mandate to #StayHome is re-shaping consumers as health citizens in ways we can only begin to understand personally, politically, emotionally, socially, and certainly in terms of health and well-being. The growth in smoking rates, eating more comfort foods, and exercising less will undoubtedly erode Americans’ overall health status in the short-to-midterm — while people continue to lose access to health insurance and face growing financial stress.