How the Norwegian population was affected by non-pharmaceutical interventions during the first six weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Public Health, 2021. 10.1177/14034948211027817
Aims The aim of this study was to examine how the Norwegian general adult population was affected by non-pharmaceutical interventions during the first six weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown. We assessed quarantine, symptoms, social distancing, home office/school, work status, social contact and health-care contact through digital access and knowledge. Methods A cross-sectional survey was performed of 29,535 adults (aged 18–99) in Norway after six weeks of non-pharmaceutical interventions in March/April 2020. Results Most participants found the non-pharmaceutical interventions to be manageable, with 20% of all adults and 30% of those aged <30 regarding them as acceptable only to some or a limited degree. Sixteen per cent had been quarantined, 6% had experienced symptoms that could be linked to COVID-19 and 84% practiced social distancing. Eleven per cent reported changes in the use of health and social services. Three-quarters (75%) of those who had mental health or physiotherapy sessions at least monthly before the pandemic reported a reduction in their use of these services. A substantial reduction was also seen for home nursing, hospital services and dentists compared to usage before the non-pharmaceutical interventions. Immigrants were more likely to experience a reduction in follow-up from psychologists and physiotherapy. With regard to the use of general practitioners, the proportions reporting an increase and a reduction were relatively equal. Conclusions The non-pharmaceutical interventions were perceived as manageable by the majority of the adult general population in Norway at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. A substantial proportion of adults <30 years old experienced difficulties with social distancing, and those >70 years old lacked the digital tools and knowledge. Further, immigrant access to health services needs monitoring and future attention.