You might think there would be few surprises in a survey that’s been done six times already. But the seventh edition of Cigna’s 360 Well-Being Survey has a quality that sets it far apart from its predecessors: it is the first one to have been carried out in the midst of a global pandemic.
Asking people to compare how they feel about their family, financial, physical, social and work well-being now compared to January 2020 is not easy after a health crisis that has caused a tragic loss of human life, economic turmoil and social isolation. But that is perhaps why this year’s 360 Well-Being Survey is more important than ever before. In these unprecedented times, we need all the information we can get in order to build back our societies, economies and communities.
Our key findings:
- Vaccination Rollouts are Transforming Perceptions of Well-Being
- Mental Health is Seen as the Most Important Influence on Whole Health
- Many are Concerned About Longer-Term Financial Commitments:
- Women have been More Negatively Impacted by the Pandemic than Men
- Children Help Improve Well-Being and Resilience
- Employees Expect More Health and Well-Being Support from Employers
Reasons for optimism?
This year’s results, which cover a record 18,000 individuals in 21 markets across five continents, offer some cause for cautious optimism. While it is true that all the indices are trending lower than they were in our January 2020 survey, the figures also show a rebound when compared to the last COVID-19 Impact Study we carried out in December 2020.
Most likely this is due to the impact of vaccination programmes and the easing of social distancing restrictions. Notably, the markets with the highest vaccination levels also scored the highest across all our 360 Well-Being Survey indices. We should bear in mind, however, that we still have a long way to go to beat the virus. Some markets are still struggling with surges in infections, and elsewhere vaccine rollouts are only just beginning.
Against this backdrop, we found that financial and physical well-being were recovering ahead of other indices. This is not necessarily as good as it sounds; financial well-being was the most negatively affected area of all the indices studied in our COVID-19 Impact Study series last year, and despite the recent rise it has only just rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.
Furthermore, the recovery is not uniform. Certain groups are struggling more than others. Among the worst hit are women and adults without children. Elsewhere, we found that lockdowns and social distancing measures had taken their toll on social well-being.
This was the index with the biggest decline since our 360 Well-Being Survey study in January 2020, with women, pre-retirees and childless workers suffering the most. Two of the most telling responses in this category related to a lack of in-person time with friends and a lack of people with whom to talk openly with.
Conversely, the research shows that family and community connections have helped people get through the COVID crisis more easily. It is notable that these connections are precisely the ones that have been hit hardest by the social distancing measures used to combat the coronavirus.
Why family and community connections are key
People who had sufficient family support and a sense of belonging in the community were generally more positive than average in their outlooks. We found that having children was a recipe for resilience because it created stronger family bonds. What is clear throughout the research is that we are living in a quite different world to the one that existed at the start of 2020. And there’s still a long way to go—so it’s likely that our 2022 360 Well-Being Survey will be full of surprises, too.
To access the full report, and to be kept up-to-date about future reports in this series, please fill in your details here.