Disparities in Eye Care Utilization During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

PURPOSE: To assess the relationship between telemedicine utilization and sociodemographic factors among patients seeking eye care. DESIGN: Comparative utilization analysis. METHODS: We reviewed the eye care utilization patterns of a stratified random sample of 1720 patients who were seen at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 30 to May 25, 2020) and their odds of having a video, phone, or in-person visit compared with having a deferred visit. Associations between independent variables and visit type were determined using a multinomial logistic regression model. RESULTS: Older patients had lower odds of having a video visit (P = .007) and higher odds of having an in-person visit (P = .023) compared with being deferred, and in the nonretina clinic sample, older patients still had lower odds of a video visit (P = .02). Non-White patients had lower odds of having an in-person visit (P < .02) in the overall sample compared with being deferred, with a similar trend seen in the retina clinic. The mean neighborhood median household income was $76,200 (±$33,500) and varied significantly (P < .0001) by race with Blacks having the lowest estimated mean income. CONCLUSION: Disparities exist in how patients accessed eye care during the COVID-19 pandemic with older patients-those for whom COVID-19 posed a higher risk of mortality-being more likely to be seen for in-person care. In our affluent participant sample, there was a trend toward non-White patients being less likely to access care. Reimbursing telemedicine solely through broadband internet connection may further exacerbate disparities in eye care.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Elam, AR; Sidhom, D; Ugoh, P; Andrews, CA; De Lott, LB; Woodward, MA; Lee, PP; Newman-Casey, PA

Published Date

  • January 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 233 /

Start / End Page

  • 163 - 170

PubMed ID

  • 34324852

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8312151

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1891

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ajo.2021.07.024


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States