Impact of the early COVID-19 pandemic on adult mental health-related dispensed medications, hospitalizations and specialist outpatient visits in Norway and Sweden: Interrupted time series analysis

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AIMS: Norway and Sweden had different early pandemic responses that may have impacted mental health management. The aim was to assess the impact of the early COVID-19 pandemic on mental health-related care.

METHODS: We used national registries in Norway and Sweden (1 January 2018-31 December 2020) to define 2 cohorts: (i) general adult population; and (ii) mental health adult population. Interrupted times series regression analyses evaluated step and slope changes compared to prepandemic levels for monthly rates of medications (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics/sedatives, lithium, opioid analgesics, psychostimulants), hospitalizations (for anxiety, bipolar, depressive/mood, eating and schizophrenia/delusional disorders) and specialist outpatient visits.

RESULTS: In Norway, immediate reductions occurred in the general population for medications (-12% antidepressants to -7% hypnotics/sedatives) except for antipsychotics; and hospitalizations (-33% anxiety disorders to -17% bipolar disorders). Increasing slope change occurred for all medications except psychostimulants (+1.1%/month hypnotics/sedatives to +1.7%/month antidepressants); and hospitalization for anxiety disorders (+5.5%/month), depressive/mood disorders (+1.7%/month) and schizophrenia/delusional disorders (+2%/month). In Sweden, immediate reductions occurred for antidepressants (-7%) and opioids (-10%) and depressive/mood disorder hospitalizations (-11%) only with increasing slope change in psychostimulant prescribing of (0.9%/month). In contrast to Norway, increasing slope changes occurred in specialist outpatient visits for depressive/mood disorders, eating disorders and schizophrenia/delusional disorders (+1.5, +1.9 and +2.3%/month, respectively). Similar changes occurred in the pre-existing mental health cohorts.

CONCLUSION: Differences in early COVID-19 policy response may have contributed to differences in adult mental healthcare provision in Norway and Sweden.

TidsskriftBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)1627-1636
StatusUdgivet - 2024

Bibliografisk note

© 2024 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Pharmacological Society.

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