Ethnic differences in the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
Ethnic differences in the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical monitoring and hospitalisations for non-COVID conditions in England: An observational cohort study using OpenSAFELY
How to cite: Ruth E Costello, John Tazare, Dominik Piehlmaier, Emily Herrett, Edward PK Parker, Bang Zheng, Kathryn E Mansfield, Alasdair D Henderson, Helena Carreira, Patrick Bidulka, Angel YS Wong, Charlotte Warren-Gash, Joseph F Hayes, Jennifer K Quint, Brian MacKenna, Rosalind M Eggo, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Laurie Tomlinson, Sinead M Langan, Rohini Mathur, The longitudinal health and wellbeing, The OpenSAFELY Collaborative. Ethnic differences in the indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical monitoring and hospitalisations for non-COVID conditions in England: An observational cohort study using OpenSAFELY
Background The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted healthcare and may have impacted ethnic inequalities in healthcare. We aimed to describe the impact of pandemic-related disruption on ethnic differences in clinical monitoring and hospital admissions for non-COVID conditions in England.
Methods We conducted a cohort study using OpenSAFELY (2018-2022). We grouped ethnicity (exposure), into five categories: White, South Asian, Black, Other, Mixed. We used interrupted time-series regression to estimate ethnic differences in clinical monitoring frequency (e.g., blood pressure measurements) before and after 23rd March 2020. We used multivariable Cox regression to quantify ethnic differences in hospitalisations related to: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and mental health before and after 23rd March 2020.
Findings Of 14,930,356 adults in 2020 with known ethnicity (92% of sample): 86.6% were White, 7.3% Asian, 2.6% Black, 1.4% Mixed ethnicity, and 2.2% Other ethnicities. Clinical monitoring did not return to pre-pandemic levels for any ethnic group. Ethnic differences were apparent pre-pandemic, except for diabetes monitoring, and remained unchanged, except for blood pressure monitoring in those with mental health conditions where differences narrowed during the pandemic. For those of Black ethnicity, there were seven additional admissions for diabetic ketoacidosis per month during the pandemic, and relative ethnic differences narrowed during the pandemic compared to White. There was increased admissions for heart failure during the pandemic for all ethnic groups, though highest in White ethnicity. Relatively, ethnic differences narrowed for heart failure admission in those of Asian and Black ethnicity compared to White. For other outcomes the pandemic had minimal impact on ethnic differences.
Interpretation Our study suggests ethnic differences in clinical monitoring and hospitalisations remained largely unchanged during the pandemic for most conditions. Key exceptions were hospitalisations for diabetic ketoacidosis and heart failure, which warrant further investigation to understand the causes.
Funding LSHTM COVID-19 Response Grant (DONAT15912).