Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Emergency Hospital Admissions in Older Adults with Multimorbidity and Depression

During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems worldwide grappled with unprecedented challenges, particularly in managing vulnerable populations. Among these, older adults with multimorbidity and depression faced heightened risks, underscoring the need for targeted healthcare interventions to improve their health outcomes. Our recent study published in PLOS ONE offers helpful insights into this issue, focusing on unplanned emergency hospital admissions among patients aged 65 and older with multimorbidity and depression in Northwest London during and after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The study used retrospective cross-sectional data analysis, leveraging the Discover-NOW database for Northwest London. It included a sample of 20,165 registered patients aged 65+ with depression, analysing data across two periods: during the COVID-19 lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 21st June 2021) and an equivalent-length post-lockdown period (22nd June 2021 to 19th September 2022). Using multivariate logistic regression, we examined the impact of sociodemographic and multimorbidity-related characteristics on the likelihood of at least one emergency hospital admission during each period.

Key Findings:

– Men had a higher risk of emergency hospitalisation compared to women in both periods, with a noticeable increase post-lockdown.

– The risk of hospitalisation significantly increased with age, higher levels of deprivation, and a greater number of comorbidities across both periods.

– Asian and Black ethnicities showed a statistically significant protective effect compared to White patients during the post-lockdown period only.

The study’s conclusions highlight the need for proactive case reviews by multidisciplinary teams, especially for men with multimorbidity and depression, patients with a higher number of comorbidities, and those experiencing greater deprivation. The findings underscore the importance of understanding the specific healthcare needs of vulnerable populations during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent unplanned admissions, improve health outcomes and reduce pressures on health systems.

This research not only contributes to the body of knowledge on healthcare use during the COVID-19 pandemic but also provides valuable insights for healthcare providers, policymakers, and researchers on the care of older adults with multimorbidity and depression. The findings emphasise the importance of tailored healthcare strategies to address the complex health needs of these patients, thereby ensuring that healthcare systems are better prepared for future public health emergencies.