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During the pandemic, people with cystic fibrosis weren’t just fighting their disease. Many were also fighting economic uncertainty.

By April 2020, a quarter of adults with cystic fibrosis had lost their jobs or were concerned about losing them, according to a recent study. In many cases, patients’ health insurance and access to essential medications are tied to their job.

Social & Economic Instability

In addition to gathering information about patients’ economic and insurance situation, researchers also surveyed them about housing, utilities, transportation and food security. The data, gathered between March and April 2020, showed that the pandemic increased social and economic instability of adults with cystic fibrosis.

Nearly 30% of respondents reported at least one negative change in a social determinant of health. Aside from job loss, housing and food insecurity were among the most common changes. These conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play can affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. Any one of these factors can influence cystic fibrosis patients’ health and have a ripple effect on other areas of life.

In addition to gathering valuable data, the research study confirmed the usefulness of screening tools to quickly identify patients’ social and economic instability. This insight could prove useful for providing support during subsequent crises.

Planning for Early Intervention

“Identifying social issues early,” noted the study’s authors, “and implementing processes to provide resources may help patients with cystic fibrosis mitigate social hardship and maintain access to health care and medications.”

Now caregivers, advocates, policymakers and support organizations are armed with this knowledge and can use it to serve cystic fibrosis patients more quickly and appropriately when unexpected challenges arise.

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