Older adults report cancellation or avoidance of medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam

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Abstract

Purpose: Delay of routine medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic may have serious consequences for the health and functioning of older adults. The aim of this study was to investigate whether older adults reported cancellation or avoidance of medical care during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to explore associations with health and socio-demographic characteristics. Methods: Cross-sectional data of 880 older adults aged ≥ 62 years (mean age 73.4 years, 50.3% female) were used from the COVID-19 questionnaire of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, a cohort study among community-dwelling older adults in the Netherlands. Cancellation and avoidance of care were assessed by self-report, and covered questions on cancellation of primary care (general practitioner), cancellation of hospital outpatient care, and postponed help-seeking. Respondent characteristics included age, sex, educational level, loneliness, depression, anxiety, frailty, multimorbidity and information on quarantine. Results: 35% of the sample reported cancellations due to the COVID-19 situation, either initiated by the respondent (12%) or by healthcare professionals (29%). Postponed help-seeking was reported by 8% of the sample. Multimorbidity was associated with healthcare-initiated cancellations (primary care OR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.09–3.50; hospital OR = 1.86, 95% CI = 1.28–2.74) and respondent-initiated hospital outpatient cancellations (OR = 2.02, 95% CI = 1.04–4.12). Depressive symptoms were associated with postponed help-seeking (OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.06–1.24). Conclusion: About one third of the study sample reported cancellation or avoidance of medical care during the first months of the pandemic, and this was more common among those with multiple chronic conditions. How this impacts outcomes in the long term should be investigated in future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Geriatric Medicine
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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