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Healthcare utilization in Canadian children and young adults with asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic


Literature is limited regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on health services use in younger Canadian populations with asthma. We utilized health administrative databases from January 2019–December 2021 for a population-based cross-sectional study to identify Ontario residents 0–25 years old with physician-diagnosed asthma and calculate rates of healthcare use. Multivariable negative binomial regression analysis was used to adjust for confounders. We included 716,690 children and young adults ≤25 years. There was a sharp increase of ICS and SABA prescription rates at the start of the pandemic (March 2020) of 61.7% and 54.6%, respectively. Monthly virtual physician visit rates increased from zero to 0.23 per 100 asthma population during the pandemic. After adjusting for potential confounders, rate ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) showed that the pandemic was associated with significant decrease in hospital admissions (RR = 0.21, 95% CI: 0.18–0.24), emergency department visits (RR = 0.35, 95% CI: 0.34–0.37), and physician visits (RR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.60–0.61). ICS and SABA prescriptions filled also significantly decreased during the pandemic (RR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.57–0.60 and RR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.46–0.48, respectively). This Canadian population-based asthma study demonstrated a dramatic decline in physician and emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and medication prescriptions filled during the COVID-19 pandemic. An extensive evaluation of the factors contributing to an 80% reduction in the risk of hospitalization may inform post-pandemic asthma management.



To T, Zhang K, Terebessy E, Zhu J, Licskai C. PLoS One. 2023; 18(1):e0280362. Epub 2023 Jan 13.

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