Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on depression incidence and healthcare service use among patients with depression: an interrupted time-series analysis from a 9-year population-based study

Vivien Kin Yi Chan, Yi Chai, Sandra Sau Man Chan, Hao Luo, Mark Jit, Martin Knapp, David Makram Bishai, Michael Yuxuan Ni, Ian Chi Kei Wong, Xue Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Most studies on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on depression burden focused on the earlier pandemic phase specific to lockdowns, but the longer-term impact of the pandemic is less well-studied. In this population-based cohort study, we examined the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on depression incidence and healthcare service use among patients with depression. Methods: Using the territory-wide electronic medical records in Hong Kong, we identified all patients aged ≥ 10 years with new diagnoses of depression from 2014 to 2022. We performed an interrupted time-series (ITS) analysis to examine changes in incidence of medically attended depression before and during the pandemic. We then divided all patients into nine cohorts based on year of depression incidence and studied their initial and ongoing service use patterns until the end of 2022. We applied generalized linear modeling to compare the rates of healthcare service use in the year of diagnosis between patients newly diagnosed before and during the pandemic. A separate ITS analysis explored the pandemic impact on the ongoing service use among prevalent patients with depression. Results: We found an immediate increase in depression incidence (RR = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.10–1.33, p < 0.001) in the population after the pandemic began with non-significant slope change, suggesting a sustained effect until the end of 2022. Subgroup analysis showed that the increases in incidence were significant among adults and the older population, but not adolescents. Depression patients newly diagnosed during the pandemic used 11% fewer resources than the pre-pandemic patients in the first diagnosis year. Pre-existing depression patients also had an immediate decrease of 16% in overall all-cause service use since the pandemic, with a positive slope change indicating a gradual rebound over a 3-year period. Conclusions: During the pandemic, service provision for depression was suboptimal in the face of increased demand generated by the increasing depression incidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate the need to improve mental health resource planning preparedness for future public health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number169
JournalBMC medicine
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024

Keywords

  • COVID
  • Cohort study
  • Depression
  • Electronic medical records
  • Health resource utilization
  • Health service use
  • Incidence
  • Interrupted time series
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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