For the media

Risks of delayed preventive care for women

By The Health News Team | May 26, 2021
Mother taking care of a sleepy child while sitting on a couch in the living room.

A recent report by the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles illustrates how COVID-19 has uniquely affected California’s women and girls. The report shows that record numbers of women have left the workforce. And for an entire year, some women have delayed medical care and experienced increased anxiety, all while holding their families and communities together.

The report produced many revealing statistics, including 47% of California women delayed medical care in 2020 due to the pandemic. Delaying preventive care, such as mammograms, colon cancer screenings and wellness exams, can increase the risk of more advanced illness.

The news that women have delayed care doesn’t come as any surprise to Dr. Amity Clow, a family medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.

“Most definitely,” says Dr. Clow. “Many of my female patients have been delaying care, promising me they would get it done ‘as soon as the pandemic is over.’”

And when her patients do seek care, she says the primary reason given for their visits has been very enlightening.

“I’ve seen a lot more patients list anxiety as the main topic they wanted to discuss,” she says. “Some of my patients were even having trouble getting their prescriptions filled as there was a time at the beginning of the pandemic when local pharmacies were running out of anti-anxiety medicines.”

The fundamental reason for this increased anxiety and for delaying medical care, says Dr. Clow, is a sense of responsibility.

“For women with families, there is a sense of responsibility in keeping their families safe and together, with child care issues and support at home as key concerns,” she says. “For everyone, there has been decreased social interaction, which is important for maintaining mental health.”

Conquering these challenges isn’t easy, but Dr. Clow believes there are solutions out there in dealing with these issues.

“For starters, it is important to learn how to navigate the new norm and find safe ways to keep socially involved,” she says. “And, they should follow the five pillars of health: healthy diet, regular exercise, restful sleep, stress reduction and safe social interaction.”

Women who have delayed preventive care now have the opportunity to focus on their own health and well-being, as schools reopen and activities resume. A phone call or FollowMyHealth® message is all it takes to schedule a screening or exam.

Dr. Clow is quick to point out these issues are not limited to women.

“I have had many male patients with similar struggles,” she says. “The pandemic does not only affect one gender, one race or one age group. This is something that we all have to work together to combat. Getting vaccinated is a great step forward. But it’s still important to be safe and not let your guard down.”

Learn more about how to get care safely at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers and Sharp HealthCare facilities.

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