In an online survey conducted by YouGov and analysis made by its PH partner, Synergy, more than 8,000 Filipinos reveal their trepidation about COVID-19. The study also discloses that millennials have ‘heightened’ worries on the COVID-19 crisis as shown in statistical data conveying pessimistic expectations on the health situation.

As the global race for a cure on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and flattening the curve continues, a survey reveals the anxieties of Filipinos amid the pandemic.

YouGov, an international research and data analytics group, conducted a nationwide online survey from May 4 to June 28 totaling 8,171 Filipino respondents. Synergy Market Research + Strategic Consultancy, a Philippine-based management consulting and market research company and the exclusive partner of YouGov in the Philippines, provided the analysis from the YouGov survey.

Concerns amidst contagion

Results indicate that the fear of contracting COVID-19 did not subside since the outbreak of the disease in the country. The number of anxious individuals remains at around 80 percent as the number of reported cases increases monthly.

The research also shows the negative outlook of the majority of Filipinos on the country’s COVID-19 situation, 60 percent of them believing that the said health crisis is worsening and 57 percent assuming local economic recession in the future.

In relation, the greatest concerns of the surveyed participants are personal finances (57 percent), followed closely by COVID’s lasting impact on society (56 percent) and the health of their friends and family (56 percent).

Moreover, middle- to high-income households are shown to be more concerned about macroeconomic issues that the pandemic would engender such as global recession (56 percent concerning for middle-income earners and 60 percent for the high-income), bank failures (40 percent and 42 percent), and local businesses (37 percent and 43 percent). In contrast, part-time workers show greater apprehension on household concerns such as paying bills (58 percent) and rent (45 percent) and other considerations such as their children’s education (44 percent) and employment (41 percent).

Full-time workers, on the other hand, are the most worried across macro to micro issues on COVID-19’s economic impact (49 percent as the average degree of concern) and matters such as the enduring societal effect of the disease (59 percent), health of their family and friends (59 percent), personal health (49 percent), employment (44 percent), and children’s education (41 percent).

Being aware as being afraid

In terms of information, 74 percent said they have enough information on contracting COVID-19, the availability of information higher among middle-income (80 percent) and high-income earners (78 percent) as well as among full-time workers (77 percent).

Nevertheless, access to information appears to be associated with negative perception of the COVID-19 situation as most of these more informed groups consider the health crisis as getting worse and expect the occurrence of a local economic recession in the next 12 months.

In relation, the researchers traced news as the possible variable that triggers anxieties since it is the most consumed media content in the middle of the pandemic and spreads awareness on the global health condition.

The study also discloses that millennials have “heightened” worries on the COVID-19 crisis as shown on statistical data conveying pessimistic expectations on the health situation (62 percent) and expressing concerns on different financial levels, health of family and friends (60 percent), personal health (49 percent), lasting societal impact of the pandemic (57 percent), employment (43 percent), and education (40 percent).

Making the ‘positive’ positive again

In their list of recommendations, Synergy highlighted the relevance of news that communicate government and institutional programs on how to alleviate fears on household finances and future education to assuage the anxieties of the public.

They also pointed out the need to establish mental health advisories and/or consultations especially for millennials.

The research is founded on the basic idea that mental health is a product of environment and structures. The relationship among variables is apparent on the presented data. For instance, the unabated build of anxiety among Filipinos could be related to daily reports on the increase of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Furthermore, availability of information is socially stratified as exhibited in the survey results, economic capital as an advantage in accessing information (and even purchasing various technological channels of information). One can cite as a reason one’s need for stability in aspects such as education and employment that are in turn gravely impacted by the ongoing health crisis.

The research conducted by YouGov and analysis provided by its partner, Synergy, also illustrates the ambivalent nature and functioning of the media. It is proven to be helpful in fulfilling its informative role, but it also contributes to stimulating (and even magnifying) the anxieties of the public.

Therefore, there is a need for the so-called “good news” in forms of responsive actions from the government and private entities that would give the anxious public an assurance that the country is effectively fighting against the virus.

In these times when there is the danger of a spreading virus, there is a demand to spread good ideas and news. Clear plans and news birth a clear mindset and future. It is only through the realizations of these scholarly recommendations that the term “positive” will have again its positive meaning in these times when it is a dreaded word.

Edited by Büm Tenorio Jr.