Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and still has, a profound impact on national health systems, altering trajectories of care and exacerbating existing inequalities in health. Postponement of surgeries and cancellation of elective surgical procedures have been reported worldwide. In Italy, the lock-down measures following the COVID-19 pandemic caused cancellations of surgical procedures and important backlogs; little is known about potential social inequalities in the recovery process that occurred during the post-lockdown period. This study aims at evaluating whether all population social strata benefited equally from the surgical volumes' recovery in four large Italian regions. Methods: This multicentre cohort study covers a population of approximately 11 million people. To assess if social inequalities exist in the recovery of eight indicators of elective and oncological surgery, we estimated Risk Ratios (RR) through Poisson models, comparing the incidence proportions of events recorded during COVID-19 (2020-21) with those in pre-pandemic years (2018-19) for each pandemic period and educational level. Results: Compared to 2018-19, volumes of elective surgery showed a U-shape with the most significant drops during the second wave or the vaccination phase. The recovery was socially unequal. At the end of 2021, incidence proportions among highly educated people generally exceeded the expected ones; RRs were 1.31 (95%CI 1.21-1.42), 1.24 (95%CI 1.17-1.23), 1.17 (95%CI 1.08-1.26) for knee and hip replacement and prostatic surgery, respectively. Among low educated patients, RR remained always < 1. Oncological surgery indicators showed a similar social gradient. Whereas volumes were preserved among the highly educated, the low educated were still lagging behind at the end of 2021. Conclusions: Surgical procedures generally returned to pre-pandemic levels but the low educated experienced the slowest recovery. An equity-oriented appraisal of trends in healthcare provision should be included in pandemic preparedness plans, to ensure that social inequalities are promptly recognised and tackled.

Equity in the recovery of elective and oncological surgery volumes after the COVID-19 lockdown: a multicentre cohort study in Italy

Di Girolamo, Chiara
First
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
2024-01-01

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and still has, a profound impact on national health systems, altering trajectories of care and exacerbating existing inequalities in health. Postponement of surgeries and cancellation of elective surgical procedures have been reported worldwide. In Italy, the lock-down measures following the COVID-19 pandemic caused cancellations of surgical procedures and important backlogs; little is known about potential social inequalities in the recovery process that occurred during the post-lockdown period. This study aims at evaluating whether all population social strata benefited equally from the surgical volumes' recovery in four large Italian regions. Methods: This multicentre cohort study covers a population of approximately 11 million people. To assess if social inequalities exist in the recovery of eight indicators of elective and oncological surgery, we estimated Risk Ratios (RR) through Poisson models, comparing the incidence proportions of events recorded during COVID-19 (2020-21) with those in pre-pandemic years (2018-19) for each pandemic period and educational level. Results: Compared to 2018-19, volumes of elective surgery showed a U-shape with the most significant drops during the second wave or the vaccination phase. The recovery was socially unequal. At the end of 2021, incidence proportions among highly educated people generally exceeded the expected ones; RRs were 1.31 (95%CI 1.21-1.42), 1.24 (95%CI 1.17-1.23), 1.17 (95%CI 1.08-1.26) for knee and hip replacement and prostatic surgery, respectively. Among low educated patients, RR remained always < 1. Oncological surgery indicators showed a similar social gradient. Whereas volumes were preserved among the highly educated, the low educated were still lagging behind at the end of 2021. Conclusions: Surgical procedures generally returned to pre-pandemic levels but the low educated experienced the slowest recovery. An equity-oriented appraisal of trends in healthcare provision should be included in pandemic preparedness plans, to ensure that social inequalities are promptly recognised and tackled.
2024
23
1
999
999
https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-024-02127-1#article-info
COVID-19; Italy; Social inequalities; Surgery
Di Girolamo, Chiara; Onorati, Roberta; Landriscina, Tania; Gnavi, Roberto; Cesaroni, Giulia; Calandrini, Enrico; Bisceglia, Lucia; Fanizza, Caterina; Spadea, Teresa
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1963412
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