The pandemic-related factors associated with emergency department visits in Portugal throughout two years of the pandemic: a retrospective population-based study

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the use of emergency departments (ED) worldwide. This study identifies the pandemic-related factors associated with the number of ED visits in mainland Portugal and each of its regions. We collected data on ED visits from March 2020 to March 2022. Data on incidence, vaccination, mobility, containment index, and Google search volume were retrieved from open online sources at different time points. We fitted a quasi-Poisson generalized linear regression model, and each variable was modeled separately and adjusted for time and month. There was a positive ED trend throughout the two years of the pandemic in mainland Portugal and each of its regions. In the mainland, during months with high workplace mobility, there were 10.5% more ED visits compared to months with average mobility. ED visits decreased in months with low mobility for retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, and transit compared to months of medium mobility. Portugal saw a reduction in ED utilization during the pandemic period, but with a positive trend from March 2020 to March 2022. The change in the population’s behavior of seeking the ED throughout the pandemic might be associated with mobility, incidence, and pandemic fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1207
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • emergency department
  • incidence
  • Portugal
  • vaccination

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