Assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health services use

Kimberly J. Johnson, Charles W. Goss, Jeannette Jackson Thompson, Anne M. Trolard, Brett B. Maricque, Victoria Anwuri, Rachel Cohen, Kate Donaldson, Elvin Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: The coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 impacted healthcare services with provider and patient cancellations, delays, and patient avoidance or delay of emergency department or urgent care. Limited data exist on the population proportion affected by delayed healthcare, which is important for future healthcare planning efforts. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare service cancellations or delays and delays/avoidance of emergency/urgent care overall and by population characteristics. Study design: This was a cross-sectional study. Methods: Our sample (n = 2314) was assembled through a phone survey from 8/12/2020–10/27/2020 among non-institutionalized St. Louis County, Missouri, USA residents ≥18 years. We asked about provider and patient-initiated cancellations or delays of appointments and pandemic-associated delays/avoidance of emergency/urgent care overall and by participant characteristics. We calculated weighted prevalence estimates by select resident characteristics. Results: Healthcare services cancellations or delays affected ∼54% (95% CI 50.6%–57.1%) of residents with dental (31.1%, 95% CI 28.1%–34.0%) and primary care (22.1%, 95% CI 19.5%–24.6%) being most common. The highest prevalences were among those who were White, ≥65 years old, female, in fair/poor health, who had health insurance, and who had ≥1 medical condition. Delayed or avoided emergency/urgent care impacted ∼23% (95% CI 19.9%–25.4%) of residents with a higher prevalence in females than males. Conclusions: Healthcare use disruptions impacted a substantial proportion of residents. Future healthcare planning efforts should consider these data to minimize potential morbidity and mortality from delayed care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100254
JournalPublic Health in Practice
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Emergency
  • Health services


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