The coronavirus has affected everyone and this has caused severe pain to all. Our current situation, which naturally brings a sense of grief, has actually made us Filipinos more spiritual and engaged in fewer vices while on quarantine according to the results of a recent study done nationwide by Philcare, one of the country’s leading HMO providers.
Philcare is very keen on doing a lot of research and data gathering and the goal is to know the mindset and sentiments of the Filipinos. Philcare facilitated the recent survey to determine the Filipinos level of knowledge about Covid-19 pandemic, level of comfort over Community Quarantine (CQ) activities, causes of worry during the CQ, prevention practices, and information sources regarding Covid-19, level of health and wellness during CQ.
The outcome is revealing and inspiring and provided valuable data that should help private sectors, government, as well as individuals to transition to the "new normal".
Researchers of the PhilCare Community Quarantine Wellness Index saw this silver lining amid the restrictions of movements imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the disease.
The study, which aimed to determine the state of Filipinos’ wellness while in community quarantine, revealed that of its 800 respondents, eight out of ten (76.7%) said they prayed at least more frequently than they did before the community quarantines.
Trailing behind were other practices like watching TV, spending time online, learning new things, and doing hobbies; while others said they often engaged in physical and mental exercises.
Meanwhile, six out of ten respondents (60.9%) said they much more rarely drank beer, wine, or liquor products compared to before; while half (50.4%) said they much more rarely smoked.
The survey was first administered via phone calls to 400 randomly-selected respondents from May 11-14 -- the final stretch of the extended enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and several other areas. Another 400 were interviewed from May 16-20 -- the first days of the modified enhanced community quarantine in the metro and other areas.
“The community quarantines and the pandemic as a whole have altered the way we live, which shocked many Filipinos. This survey provided us the opportunity to take a deeper dive into their sentiments and behaviors when it comes to health and wellness,” said lead researcher Dr. Fernando Paragas of the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
“The ongoing pandemic naturally makes everyone feel helpless. What’s good about the findings is that we saw how Filipinos turned to spirituality -- which is a positive coping mechanism -- in order to deal with the anxiety. It is interesting that vices only played a minor role in helping Filipinos through the ordeal of quarantine,” said PhilCare Associate Medical Director Dr. Ultra Tan.
While many Filipinos have expressed becoming more prayerful, many have also indicated their fears of returning to work with the ongoing pandemic. Six of ten respondents (60.1%) particularly said they were not comfortable about going back to their offices, similar to the study’s preliminary results.
Nearly all respondents, nonetheless, are most concerned with the health of their loved ones (95.9%), a possible “second wave” of COVID-19 (94.1%), and contracting the disease itself (93.6%).
“We believe that the findings of the PhilCare Community Quarantine Wellness Index serve an eye-opener to employers and policymakers on how responsive they should be towards their respective stakeholders given that our way of life has dramatically changed. With these learnings, we hope to work together with various sectors in order for us to continue living healthy even amid the pandemic,” said PhilCare President and CEO Jaeger L. Tanco.
“The survey’s results just affirm our belief that we need to be responsive to the needs of the times, from the products and services were to being in step with our customers’ sentiments, both online and offline,” stressed PhilCare Vice President for Sales and Marketing Raymund Tiangco.
PhilCare launched its’ Wellness From Home workout videos as the lockdown across Luzon began last March. The videos, uploaded on PhilCare’s Facebook page, featured exercises taught by fitness experts to help followers achieve optimal wellness despite being unable to go out to exercise. To date, the videos have reached 500,000 people, of which 350,000 have viewed them.
In addition, PhilCare offers its DigiConsult service, a timely response to the study’s findings wherein members need not leave their homes to be able to consult a doctor on the phone anytime. They just have to use their HeyPhil app, which can be downloaded on Google Play and the App Store. The health maintenance organization (HMO) is also working to have the service available to non-members the soonest.
Prior to the PhilCare Community Quarantine Wellness Index, the HMO commissioned studies measuring the overall state of being happy, healthy, and successful among Filipinos in 2014 and again in 2019.