Consumer Response to Nutrition during COVID-19 in Brazil
By Bianca Azevedo and Matthew Heidman, M.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how patients interact with healthcare professionals in addition to how they view their health. One of the hardest-hit regions in the Americas over the past year has been Brazil.
SPRIM conducted two surveys among 183 nutritionists in Brazil to better understand how practices and patients have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. SPRIM wanted to further evaluate how shifting patient concerns and resulting behaviors have altered nutritionist practices.
The Nutritionist’s Shift in Patient Engagement
Due to COVID-19, nutritionist practices in Brazil have limited in person visits with patients. In fact, 95% of nutritionists surveyed had a reduction in face-to-face visits, with 38% seeing greater than an 80% reduction. As a result, the vast majority of nutritional consults and visits have shifted to online appointments with patients, with 85% conducting online appointments currently or intending to do so in the near future.
Brazilian nutritionists report that although patients show interest in online appointments, significant challenges remain. 71% of patients say they are receptive to online appointments, but 69% of nutritionists report that they face difficulty scheduling patients, and 64% state they are seeing a greater rate of cancelations.
These results exemplify the effects of the pandemic on patient interactions with their nutritionist provider. Social distancing guidelines have created separation, causing less interactions directly between nutritionists and their patients.
Brazilian nutrition companies should help to support patient engagement with nutritionists, especially when needs and recommendations for patients are shifting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, nutritionists find that it is important to continue getting nutrition product information from company representatives, even if it is online, with 85% expressing that it is very important during the pandemic.
The Nutritionist’s Patient Health Concern Shift
Beyond changing how nutritionists interact with their patients, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted patient health focus and nutrition concerns. Two-thirds of nutritionists report that their patients’ health concerns have shifted since the pandemic began. Immune health being the leading major concern with 79% of nutritionists stating that it is a major concern among patients.
In the wake of immunity concerns, nutritionists report that the most prescribed vitamins and supplements during the pandemic period are Vitamin D (69% of nutritionists), Probiotics (62%), Vitamin C (59%), and Zinc (48%). Additionally, nutritionists have expressed that their recommendations of food items such as fruits, vegetables, and water intake have been framed in the context of immunity support during the pandemic (85% of nutritionists).
The Nutritionist Opportunity
During the pandemic, patients have become more concerned with their immune health, but engagement has become increasingly difficult. Additionally, nutritionists feel that clear, comprehensible product information from product companies has become more important to patients due to the reduction of direct interaction.
Nutrition companies in Brazil have an opportunity to provide nutritionists with engaging and educational immunity product material that they can share with their patient populations online. This material can drive patient engagement and further consultation for the nutritionist while educating the patients on the benefits of their immune products and encouraging product use.
SPRIM possesses a unique set of capabilities in interpreting scientific concepts such as those surrounding best-in-class nutrition products and effectively communicating these in a way that resonates with the consumer and medical professionals. Leveraging these capabilities, SPRIM is ready to support nutrition companies in the development of educational and training assets for multiple mediums (e.g., online assets, labeling, webinars, guides) and execution of patient engagement programs to help nutritionists maintain patient engagement through the use of products.