Self-reported health-related quality of life of the general population in Alberta, Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Patient Rep Outcomes. 2022 Oct 12;6(1):109. doi: 10.1186/s41687-022-00518-y.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted various aspects of people's life and wellbeing around the world. This study aimed to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health-related quality of life (HRQL), measured by the EQ-5D-5L, amongst the general population in the province of Alberta, Canada, and explore whether the impact varied across population subgroups based on age, gender, and dwelling.

Methods: Data came from two waves of a repeated cross-sectional population-based survey, the COVID-19 Experiences and Impact Survey, administered by the Health Quality Council of Alberta. The first data collection (survey 1: n = 8790) was during May/June 2020 and the second (survey 2: n = 9263) during Oct 2020. We examined the comparability of weighted survey data and their representativeness to Alberta's general population. We then explored between-survey differences in EQ-5D-5L index, EQ-VAS and dimension responses, and differences across subgroups within each survey. We compared HRQL of the pooled sample (survey 1&2) with the Alberta population norms data from the pre-pandemic period.

Results: Mean EQ-5D-5L index and EQ-VAS scores were 0.81 (0.15) and 72.54 (18.57), and 0.82 (0.14) and 71.98 (18.96) in surveys 1 and 2, respectively. The anxiety/depression dimension had the most reported problems (survey 1: 69.5%, survey 2: 70.2%). Respondents aged 16-24 or 75 and older, who identified themselves as a woman, or residing in urban areas had significantly lower EQ-5D-5L index scores compared to their counterparts in both surveys. Between-survey differences were not substantially different. Comparing the pooled sample with the pre-pandemic Alberta population norms, EQ-5D-5L index scores (0.82 vs. 0.84) and EQ-VAS scores (72.26 vs. 77.40) were significantly lower, and respondents aged 16-44, women, or urban residents were more impacted. More problems were reported in the anxiety/depression (69.9% vs. 37.2%) and usual activities dimensions (40.5% vs. 26.0%) during the pandemic period, especially for respondents aged 16-44, women, and those residing in urban areas.

Conclusions: Lower HRQL was reported during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-pandemic HRQL in this population, with anxiety/depression and usual activities affected the most. People who were younger, women, and residing in urban areas were most impacted. The government responses to COVID-19 policies during population outbreaks should consider the needs of Albertans in these particular groups.

Keywords: Alberta; COVID-19; EQ-5D-5L; General population; Health-related quality of life; Population norms.