COVID-19 impacted smoking assessment rates in community health centers, necessitating a closer examination on how procedures can be adapted
COVID-19 Impacted Smoking Assessment Rates in Community Health Centers, Necessitating a Closer Examination on How Procedures Can be Adapted
Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and OCHIN, a large nonprofit network of community health centers, extracted electronic health record data from 217 primary care clinics between January 2019 through the end of July 2021, which included telehealth and in-person visits for 759,138 adult patients aged 18 and older years to determine how monthly rates of tobacco assessment had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team calculated the rates per 1,000 patients. The team found that between March and May 2020, tobacco assessment monthly rates declined from 155.7 per 1,000 patients down to 77.7 per 1,000 patients, a 50% decline. There was a subsequent increase in tobacco assessment between June 2020 and May 2021. However, assessments remained 33.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels. These findings are significant given the fact that tobacco use can increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
What is Known on This Topic: While there is plentiful evidence on the impact that COVID-19 has had on primary health care seeking and delivery, little is known about how the pandemic affected tobacco use assessments and cessation programs.
What This Study Adds: The decline in the rate of tobacco assessments during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was substantial and rates have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Given that tobacco use can exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms, researchers recommend careful examination of procedural changes to adapt care delivery to support community health centers, specifically tobacco cessation efforts.
.Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Assessing Tobacco Status in Community Health Centers