HealthDay News — Diagnoses of common conditions decreased substantially between March and May 2020, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in The Lancet Public Health. The research was published to coincide with the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Conference on Coronavirus Diseases, held virtually from Sept. 23 to 25.
Richard Williams, from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study using primary care data to examine the indirect effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on diagnoses of physical and mental health conditions in a deprived population. Models were used to predict the expected numbers of first diagnoses of common conditions and first prescriptions between March 1 and May 31, 2020, which were compared to the observed numbers during the same period.
The researchers found 1,073 first diagnoses of common mental health problems reported between March 1 and May 31, 2020, compared with 2,147 expected cases based on previous years, representing a reduction of 50 percent. There were 456 fewer diagnoses of circulatory system diseases and 135 fewer diagnoses of type 2 diabetes compared with expected numbers (43.3 and 49.0 percent reductions, respectively). For the same time period, the number of first prescriptions of associated medications was also lower than expected. During this time period, the gap between observed and expected cancer diagnoses was not statistically significant.
“Our study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a large number of potentially missed or delayed diagnoses of health conditions, which carry high risk if not promptly diagnosed and effectively treated,” the authors write.