Topic: From birth control to mammograms, many women missed out on preventive care for all of 2020
Study shows even after in-person care restarted, women were 20% to 30% less likely to get such services than in 2019, especially those from lower-income and higher-minority areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic knocked many women off schedule for important health appointments, a new study finds, and many didn’t get back on schedule even after clinics reopened. The effect may have been greatest in areas where such care is already likely falling behind experts’ recommendations.
The study, by health care researchers in the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, looks at screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections (STI), as well as two types of birth control care: prescriptions for oral contraceptives and insertions of longer-acting devices.
For all of 2020, adult women covered by Michigan’s largest private health insurer were 20% to 30% less likely to receive these services than they were in 2019, according to the findings reported in JAMA Health Forum.
As expected, there was a sharp drop in most such care during Michigan’s first pandemic peak in March and April 2020. That includes the weeks when the state’s public health orders paused all non-essential health care, and many health clinics closed, to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission and free up health providers for the surge of a brand-new disease caused by a little-understood virus.
But even after clinics reopened, there was no added increase in these services during the rest of the year to make up for lost time.
From July 2020 to the end of the year, women got most of these kinds of care at pre-pandemic levels, but not at higher levels that would catch up on missed care.
“This recovery to baseline levels, but not above them, means a group of women missed these services all year. The question is, what will that mean for them over the longer term?” says Nora Becker, M.D., Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a primary care doctor at Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center. “We don’t know yet whether they have caught up in 2021, but we will need to keep looking at the data as they become available.”
Topic Discussed: From birth control to mammograms, many women missed out on preventive care for all of 2020
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