- Japan Epidemiological Association
- Journal of Epidemiology (ISSN:09175040)
- vol.32, no.10, pp.476-482, 2022-10-05 (Released:2022-10-05)
Background: Regular visits with healthcare professionals are important for preventing serious complications in patients with diabetes. The purpose of this retrospective cohort study was to clarify whether there was any suppression of physician visits among patients with diabetes during the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in Japan and to assess whether telemedicine contributed to continued visits.Methods: We used the JMDC Claims database, which contains the monthly claims reported from July 2018 to May 2020 and included 4,595 (type 1) and 123,686 (type 2) patients with diabetes. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we estimated the changes in the monthly numbers of physician visits or telemedicine per 100 patients in April and May 2020 compared with the same months in 2019.Results: For patients with type 1 diabetes, the estimates for total overall physician visits were −2.53 (95% confidence interval [CI], −4.63 to 0.44) in April and −8.80 (95% CI, −10.85 to −6.74) in May; those for telemedicine visits were 0.71 (95% CI, 0.47–0.96) in April and 0.54 (95% CI, 0.32–0.76) in May. For patients with type 2 diabetes, the estimates for overall physician visits were −2.50 (95% CI, −2.95 to −2.04) in April and −3.74 (95% CI, −4.16 to −3.32) in May; those for telemedicine visits were 1.13 (95% CI, 1.07–1.20) in April and 0.73 (95% CI, 0.68–0.78) in May.Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with suppression of physician visits and a slight increase in the utilization of telemedicine among patients with diabetes during April and May 2020.