Post-COVID-19 health-care utilization: one year after the 2020 first wave in Brunei Darussalam
Post-COVID-19 health-care utilization in Brunei Darussalam
Keywords:COVID-19, anxiety, health care utilization, Brunei, follow-up care
Objective: Patients who recover from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection are at risk of long-term health disorders and may require prolonged health care. This retrospective observational study assesses the number of health-care visits before and after COVID-19 infection in Brunei Darussalam.
Methods: COVID-19 cases from the first wave with 12 months of follow-up were included. Health-care utilization was defined as health-care visits for consultations or investigations. Post-COVID condition was defined using the World Health Organization definition.
Results: There were 132 cases; 59.1% were male and the mean age was 37.1 years. The mean number of health-care visits 12 months after recovery from COVID-19 (123 cases, 93.2%; mean 5.0 ± 5.2) was significantly higher than the prior 12 months (87 cases, 65.9%, P<0.001; mean 3.2 ± 5.7, P<0.001). There was no significant difference when scheduled COVID-19 visits were excluded (3.6 ± 4.9, P = 0.149). All 22 cases with moderate to critical disease recovered without additional health-care visits apart from planned post-COVID-19 visits. Six patients had symptoms of post-COVID condition, but none met the criteria for diagnosis or had alternative diagnoses.
Discussion: There were significantly more health-care visits following recovery from COVID-19. However, this was due to scheduled post-COVID-19 visits as per the national management protocol. This protocol was amended prior to the second wave to omit post-COVID-19 follow-up, except for complicated cases or cases with no documented radiological resolution of COVID-19 pneumonia. This will reduce unnecessary health-care visits and conserve precious resources that were stretched to the limit during the pandemic.