(HealthDay News) — Among adults aged 18 to 64 years, there was no change in the uninsured rate, despite increased unemployment in 2020, and the prevalence of certain unhealthy behaviors decreased, regardless of cancer history, according to a study published online Aug. 22 in Cancer.
Xuesong Han, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Kennesaw, Georgia, and colleagues used data from the nationwide, population-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2017 to 2020) to examine changes in health-related measures during the COVID-19 pandemic among cancer survivors and adults without a cancer history.
The researchers found that despite increases in unemployment, the uninsured rate did not change significantly in 2020 among adults aged 18 to 64 years. In 2020, there was a decrease in the prevalence of unhealthy behaviors, such as insufficient sleep and smoking, while self-rated health improved, irrespective of cancer history. Among nonelderly adults, declines in smoking were larger among cancer survivors than those without a cancer history. For adults aged 65 years and older, few changes were observed.
“Our findings suggest that the pandemic may have motivated people to adopt certain healthier behaviors, and national and regional policy responses to the pandemic regarding insurance coverage, unemployment benefits, and financial assistance may have contributed to the observed positive changes,” Han said in a statement. “As policies related to the public health emergency expire, ongoing monitoring of longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer survivorship is warranted.”
One author disclosed financial ties to AstraZeneca; a second author serves on the Flatiron Health Equity Advisory Board.