Diabetes incidence is expected to increase following the COVID-pandemic due to widespread changes in physical activity, diet, and access to health care services. We used administrative health care databases from Ontario, Canada to examine monthly changes in diabetes screening during the pandemic (Mar 2020-Feb 2021) compared to the pre-pandemic period (Mar 2019-Feb 2020) among adults aged 20-85 without prior diabetes. The eligible population was 9,599,079 in Mar 20 and 9,941,336 in Feb 2021. Overall, the number of people screened for diabetes was 25.3% lower in the pandemic (N=4,060,348) versus pre-pandemic (N=5,437,284) period. However, the number of people screened each month declined by 65.6% between February and April 2020 (Figure 1; 1.53 vs. 4.44 per 100, -2.91 per 100) . Screening rates recovered by July 2020 (3.88 per 100) but remained 15.6% lower than in the pre-pandemic period. Similar patterns were observed in all age groups but declines in screening rates between February and April 2020 were greatest in adults aged 35-49 (-69.4%) and 50-64 (-69.5%) . Findings were also consistent across income groups.
In summary, we observed a sudden decline in diabetes screening in Ontario, Canada, where laboratory tests and other health care services are universally insured. This may lead to delays in prediabetes and diabetes diagnosis, resulting in missed opportunities for diabetes prevention and early management.
G.S.Fazli: None. R.Moineddin: None. V.Ling: None. G.L.Booth: None.
Canadian Institute for Health Research