A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland reveals varied impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals with type 2 diabetes in North Karelia, Finland. The study compared care processes and outcomes during two periods of the first pandemic year (16 March 2020 to 15 March 2021) with the equivalent periods one year earlier (16 March 2019 to 15 March 2020). Generally, there was a decline in healthcare visits and monitoring of blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, distinct patterns emerged when evaluating patients based on their engagement in follow-up care in the three years preceding the pandemic, i.e., from 16 March 2017 to 15 March 2019.
The pandemic had the greatest effect on patients who, prior to the pandemic, had in-person contact at least every six months. Among them, service use decreased the most, with one out of four not seeking in-person contact during one of the two six-month periods following the onset of the pandemic.
“Patients with the most consistent pre-pandemic service use have greater service needs due to more comorbidities,” says Doctoral Researcher Laura Inglin from the University of Eastern Finland. “Despite the significant changes, service use remained highest among these patients who need close monitoring to prevent micro- and macrovascular complications.”
Conversely, patients who had no in-person contact before the pandemic exhibited a different trend. About one in six of these individuals had their first in-person contact in over three years during the pandemic.
The study used electronic health records data. The patient records comprised both public primary health care and specialized care in the whole region and was not gathered separately, but at the moment of care. “High-quality electronic health records, which provide structured and up-to-date information about patients and care processes, are a valuable source of information for the surveillance and management of type 2 diabetes,” Inglin points out.
For further information, please contact:
Laura Inglin, MPH, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, laura.inglin(a)uef.fi
Inglin L, Wikström K, Lamidi ML, Laatikainen T. Consistent service use before the COVID-19 pandemic predicted the continuity of face-to-face appointments during the lockdown among type 2 diabetes patients. Prim Care Diabetes. 2024 Jan 6:S1751-9918(23)00221-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pcd.2023.12.003.
IMPRO Research group: