Most Israelis perceive their physical, mental health as worse than before war – survey

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

The results of a survey conducted by Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second-largest health maintenance organization, shows that most Israelis perceive their physical and mental health as worse now than it was before the war.

The survey was conducted at the end of March among a representative sample of more than 1,000 Israelis ages 20-75 from all over the country and belonging to all four of Israel’s HMOs.

The survey measures the self-reported health status of Israelis six months into the war that began with the murderous attack by Hamas on southern Israel on October 7, and compares it to data collected earlier in 2023.

A Maccabi survey from before the war showed that 61 percent of the public considered their overall health to be very good or excellent. The new survey indicates that the percentage is down to 46%.

Data from before the war showed that only 8% of respondents reported that their overall health was moderate or very bad. Now 17% of people feel this way.

Thirty-five percent of the public with chronic diseases report a worsening of their illness. Israelis of lower socioeconomic status with chronic illnesses report more of a decline than those with above-average incomes.

Mental health has declined too. At this point, only 37% of Israelis feel that their emotional state is very good or excellent, whereas before October 7, 61% described their mental health that way.

A quarter of Israelis say they sought help from a mental health professional since October 7.

Half of the country’s citizens say they are sleeping less well and there has been a 20% decline in the number of Israelis making sure to live a healthy lifestyle.

Thirty-four percent of respondents report that during the war they have delayed or canceled a pre-scheduled doctor’s appointment. Twenty percent delayed or canceled an important medical screening appointment such as a mammogram or colonoscopy.

A breakdown of the figures indicates that more women than men perceive a decline in their physical and mental health. People ages 20-49 are faring worse than those aged 50 and older.

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