Healthcare and social needs associated with COVID-19: An evidence map

Mariana Aparicio Betancourt, Andrea Duarte-Díaz, Carola Orrego Villagrán, Lilisbeth Perestelo-Pérez, Helena Vall Roqué, Ana Isabel González González

Keywords: COVID-19, needs assessment, healthcare needs, social needs, evidence map

COVID-19 has triggered a global crisis that has exposed gaps and areas of need in our health and social care systems.

Research questions:
The present work aims to systematically map evidence addressing COVID-19-related healthcare and social needs of adult patients, their family members, and the professionals involved at any care level, including primary care, to identify knowledge clusters and research gaps.

We searched the electronic databases MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science (2019 – 14/01/2021). Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, assessed full-texts for eligibility, and extracted the data. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. Primary studies addressing COVID-19-related healthcare and social needs from the perspective of patients, family members, and professionals were included. There were no restrictions on article type, study design or setting. Qualitative content analysis was used to generate codes and derive overarching themes associated with COVID-19-related healthcare and social needs.

A total of 1,336 references were screened after removing duplicates, and 145 full-texts were assessed for eligibility. Thirty-eight studies met inclusion criteria. Studies were conducted in multiple countries (24% Europe, 18% USA, 16% China). Professionals' needs were grouped into four themes (basic, occupational, psychological, public health) and patients’ needs into five themes (basic, healthcare, informational, psychological support, social welfare). No study addressed needs from the perspective of family members. Preliminary results indicate the most frequently reported needs from the professionals’ perspective were personal protective equipment, and strategies to cope with stress, anxiety, and other emotional symptoms. The most frequently reported patients’ needs were social support and communication, COVID-19 knowledge, and receiving high-quality care.

This evidence map provides valuable insight on COVID-19-related healthcare and social needs from the perspective of patients and professionals. More research is warranted to identify the needs of family members, assess whether needs differ by country or region, and evaluate how needs evolve over time.

Points for discussion:
Additional COVID-19-related needs of adult patients and health and social care professionals, including country or region-specific needs.

There is limited research exploring COVID-19-related healthcare and social needs from the perspective of family members*. We are interested in discussing why this subgroup has been forgotten, how to fill this gap, and potential additional needs specific to family members not currently captured by the perspective of patients or professionals. *Note: For the purposes of our review, family is defined as any group of persons who are related biologically, emotionally, or legally such as siblings, parents, spouses, hired caregivers, significant others, and friends.

The evolution of healthcare and social needs over time given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.