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Data sharing statement
We used a qualitative research design, and therefore the data generated are not suitable for sharing beyond that contained within the report. Further information can be obtained from the corresponding author. The study protocol was published on Research Gate (https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.12018.45762) and is freely accessible to everyone.
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There is a lack of knowledge on how people at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) experienced the infection control measures. This study aimed to explore their perspectives and needs during the coronavirus outbreak.
A qualitative longitudinal interview study was conducted in Austria during lockdown due to COVID-19 containment and afterwards. People older than 65 years of age and/or affected by a chronic medical condition participated in individual telephone interviews at two time points. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data and saturation was defined as no new emerging concepts in at least 10 subsequent interviews.
Thematic saturation was reached when 33 individuals (75.8% female, mean age ± standard deviation [SD] 73.7±10.9 years) were included. A total of 44 lower level concepts were extracted and summarized into 6 higher level concepts. They included (i) a general positive attitude toward COVID-19 measures, (ii) challenges of being isolated from the community, (iii) deterioration of health status, (iv) difficulties with measures due to their health condition, (v) lack of physical contact and (vi) lack of information versus overload. Participants suggested environmental adaptations for strengthening resilience in people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Strategies and interventions are needed to support people at risk under pandemic conditions. Their perceptions and needs should be addressed to reduce the potential deterioration of health conditions and ensure well-being even during prolonged periods of crisis.