Changes in Health Perception among Patients with Aortic Diseases in a Severe COVID-19 Area in the West of Germany : A Longitudinal Study between the First and Second Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Background and Objectives: The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become the most challenging global health pandemic since the 1918 flu. In Germany, more than 3.4 million cases are confirmed so far, including 83,000 deaths. Increased fatality rates among patients with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) represent this group at particular risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in health perception among patients with aortic diseases during the first (w1) and second wave (w2) of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany.

Material and Methods: Patients (n = 262) diagnosed with aortic disease participated in telephone interviews during w1 and w2. The perception of COVID-19 as a threat was examined using relevant items of the Brief Illness Perception (BIP) questionnaire.

Results: The BIP score increased from 9.18 (SD = 7.132) to 14.58 (SD = 6.956) between w1 and w2 (p < 0.001). Although this population is at high risk their overall perception of COVID-19 as a threat was low in the beginning, but surged during w2. Main reasons were increased effects on personal life and elevated concerns about the pandemic, but did not include the educational aspect of COVID-19.

Conclusions: Tailored risk communication strengthens the mental health of people in a public health crisis and ensures the success of governmental guidelines.


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