Objectives: We investigated associations between multiple sociodemographic characteristics (sex, age, occupational social class, education and ethnicity) and self-reported healthcare disruptions during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Design: Coordinated analysis of prospective population surveys. Setting: Community-dwelling participants in the UK between April 2020 and January 2021. Participants: Over 68 000 participants from 12 longitudinal studies. Outcomes: Self-reported healthcare disruption to medication access, procedures and appointments. Results: Prevalence of healthcare disruption varied substantially across studies: between 6% and 32% reported any disruption, with 1%–10% experiencing disruptions in medication, 1%–17% experiencing disruption in procedures and 4%–28% experiencing disruption in clinical appointments. Females (OR 1.27; 95% CI 1.15 to 1.40; I2=54%), older persons (eg, OR 1.39; 95% CI 1.13 to 1.72; I2=77% for 65–75 years vs 45–54 years) and ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) (OR 1.19; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.35; I2=0% vs white) were more likely to report healthcare disruptions. Those in a more disadvantaged social class were also more likely to report healthcare disruptions (eg, OR 1.17; 95% CI 1.08 to 1.27; I2=0% for manual/routine vs managerial/professional), but no clear differences were observed by education. We did not find evidence that these associations differed by shielding status. Conclusions: Healthcare disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic could contribute to the maintenance or widening of existing health inequalities.


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Maddock, J., Parsons, S., Di Gessa, G., Green, M., Thompson, E., Stevenson, A., Kwong, A., McElroy, E., Santorelli, G., Silverwood, R., Captur, G., Chaturvedi, N., Steves, C., Steptoe, A., Patalay, P., Ploubidis, G. & Katikireddi, S. 2022, 'Inequalities in healthcare disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from 12 UK population-based longitudinal studies', BMJ Open, 12(10), article no: e064981. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-064981

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Last updated: 20 October 2022
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