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Early insights into the pandemic's indirect effects on health care use and mortality of persons with complex immune-mediated diseases

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Epidemiology & Public Health

Changes in medical care and mortality of persons with complex immune-mediated diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic: collateral damage.

The toll of the pandemic and its effects on healthcare access on people with complex health conditions who rely on regular visits to the doctor, hospital and pharmacy is unknown. Canada and British Columbia have some of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel and rheumatic diseases worldwide. Our aim is to investigate which types of healthcare and medicines these people are accessing during the pandemic. We expect to see a large drop in all types of healthcare normally needed to manage disease, as compared to before the pandemic. We will also look at whether men and women are affected differently and how age and other common conditions people might have such as depression or heart problems influences findings. This information is vital to prevent these consequences from recurring in future pandemic waves. Our study will also help prevent long-term poor health and disability in these vulnerable people. 

We will also study if, and how, the pandemic is impacting survival and causes of death in people with multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel and rheumatic diseases. We will determine if there has been a change in death rates during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic. By looking at death certificates, we will also be able to see the cause of death. We expect to find an excess of death not directly caused by the COVID-19 virus. Our study will