The perceived effects of COVID-19 while living with a chronic illness

Mary Ryder*, Suzanne Guerin, Rita Forde, Grainne Lowe, Tiny Jaarsma, Madeline O'Neill, Carmel Halley, Michael Connolly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A diagnosis of chronic illness posed a serious threat to people during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. People with chronic illnesses were faced with increased mortality and reduced access to healthcare. Self-care is the process of maintaining health and managing a chronic illness. Nurses working in specialist services provide healthcare education to people with chronic illnesses. Access to these nurses was decreased during periods of the COVID-19 virus escalation due to the reconfiguration of services and redeployment of nurses. The purpose of the research was to learn from the experiences of people with a chronic illnesses in self-care behaviors and accessing altered healthcare services to inform future practices.

A population survey design.

A mixed methods survey was designed, combining validated questionnaires and scales with open-ended questions. A convenience sample was utilized via using social media platforms. Data analysis included descriptive and inferential statistics. Content analysis was used to analyze open-ended responses.

There were 147 responses, with approximately half reporting no changes in face-to-face healthcare contact, 41% reporting decreased contacts and 12% increased contacts. Non-face-to-face contacts were reduced by almost 9%, did not change by almost 60%, while 33% indicated an increase. Participants reported mixed perceptions in contact with healthcare providers during restrictions. In the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care and the Self-Care of Chronic Illness scales, participants scored statistically lower scores than in previous studies. Participants indicated that public health restrictions negatively impacted their confidence, created challenges with re-engaging and that access to care was more difficult.

This research highlights the importance of providing continued support to people with chronic illness irrespective of other challenges to healthcare services. A structured approach to virtual self-care education is required.

Clinical relevance
This research concluded that the experience of access to one healthcare professional as opposed to diverse multidisciplinary input was similar for a number of chronic illnesses groups of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an altered dynamic of virtual contacts with healthcare providers and a lack of confidence interpreting what monitoring was required by people with a chronic illnesses due to a lack of preparedness for virtual healthcare delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date25 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2022


  • Arthritis, Chronic illness, COVID-19, Diabetes, Heart failure, Lung disease, Self-care


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