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Doctors respond to COVID-19 Barometer study

To better understand how physicians were responding to the coronavirus pandemic, we tapped into our global physician community and conducted a survey where we asked more than 6,000 doctors about their experience and thinking on COVID-19. We conducted this survey back in late March when all of this was still very new and very raw. Even for doctors. Especially for doctors. Some of the data coming out of that survey seems to be having quite a moment right now, so let’s take a closer look at it.  

A lot of people are focused on one stat from the survey: the one in which 37% of the doctors who answered that particular question said hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was the most effective treatment from a list of 15 treatments. That is a true reflection of the data.  

But this conversation about treatments for COVID-19 is very important, so let’s take a little tour of the wider story of a) that study, and b) the more recent research we’ve done into what doctors know and think about COVID-19. 

We’ve run 12 surveys since late March on this subject. We call it Sermo’s Real-Time COVID-19 Barometer. The 37% stat came from the first survey (aka Week 1) of the Barometer, which came out early in the U.S. experience of the pandemic, on March 27. Here it is: 

The numbers around this question are often mischaracterized. You see, more than 6K participated in our survey, but only 2,171 replied to this question. Of those, only 37% (about 800) said HCQ was the most effective treatment. Jack Goodman did a good job of characterizing this context in his August 1st article for BBC Reality Check. 

We went on to ask doctors about HCQ in our later surveys, so it’s probably time to shine some light on those results. 

Up first: Question 3 on Wave 2 (April 2) also asked doctors to rate HCQ on an effectiveness scale of 1-5. 4 and 5 being “very” or “extremely” effective.  

In Wave II, 38% of doctors gave HCQ a 4 or a 5, while 52% of doctors gave “Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19” this high effectiveness rating. 

Here’s a screenshot: 

And here’s the link to Wave II: 

But we didn’t stop there. We asked a version of this question again in Wave 12, from July 1st. 

Here’s the Wave 12 study again (expand the “Therapies” section to see these results): 

As you know, A LOT happened between April 1 and July 1. In order to get a clear picture, we asked doctors about the effectiveness of 26 therapies. Doctors rated therapies for 3 different COVID-19 patient states: mild symptoms, hospitalized outside of ICU, and in the ICU. 

Everyone’s hyper-focused on Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) right now, so here’s how that therapy (out of a total of 26) fared: 

Ranked by the % of doctors giving it a rating of Very or Extremely Effective, HCQ ranked: 

#15 of 26 for patients with mild symptoms 

#21 of 26 for patients in the hospital, not in the ICU 

#23 of 26 for patients in the ICU 

Stay tuned for our update on doctor sentiment about HCQ and all other COVID-19 treatments, coming later this month. 

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