The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally affected older people in terms of clinical outcomes and care provision. We aimed to investigate older adults’ changes in access to care during the pandemic and their determinants. We used data from a cross-sectional study (LOST in Lombardia) conducted in autumn 2020 on a representative sample of 4400 older adults from the most populated region in Italy. Lifestyles, mental health, and access to healthcare services before and during the pandemic were collected. To identify factors associated with care delays, reduction in emergency department (ED) access, and hospitalisations, we estimated prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) using multivariable log-binomial regression models. During the pandemic, compared to the year before, 21.5% of the study population increased telephone contacts with the general practitioner (GP) and 9.6% increased self-pay visits, while 22.4% decreased GP visits, 12.3% decreased outpatient visits, 9.1% decreased diagnostic exams, 7.5% decreased ED access, and 6% decreased hospitalisations. The prevalence of care delays due to patient’s decision (overall 23.8%) was higher among men (PR 1.16, 95% CI 1.05–1.29), subjects aged 75 years or more (PR 1.12, 95% CI 1.00–1.25), and those with a higher economic status (p for trend < 0.001). Participants with comorbidities more frequently cancelled visits and reduced ED access or hospitalisations, while individuals with worsened mental health status reported a higher prevalence of care delays and ED access reductions. Access to care decreased in selected sub-groups of older adults during the pandemic with likely negative impacts on mortality and morbidity in the short and long run.
Older Adults’ Access to Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results from the LOckdown and LifeSTyles (LOST) in Lombardia Project / Vigezzi, G. P.; Bertuccio, P.; Amerio, A.; Bosetti, C.; Gori, D.; Cavalieri D'Oro, L.; Iacoviello, L.; Stuckler, D.; Zucchi, A.; Gallus, S.; Odone, A.; Amore, M.; Bertuccio, P.; Bonaccio, M.; Ciampichini, R.; De Sena, R.; Gianfagna, F.; Ghislandi, S.; Ghulam, A.; Jarach, C. M.; Lugo, A.; Mosconi, G.; Rognoni, M.; Serafini, G.; Scala, M.; Signorelli, C.; Stival, C.; Wang, Y.. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH. - ISSN 1660-4601. - 19:18(2022). [10.3390/ijerph191811271]