Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register
Robertson 2021d

The Impact of COVID-19 on First Nations People Health Assessments in Australia

  1. Study Type
  2. Modelling
  1. Study Aim
  2. Other
  1. Study Design
  2. Other
  1. Intervention Assignment
  2. Not Applicable

The Impact of COVID-19 on First Nations People Health Assessments in Australia

Robertson R, Mian M, Sreedharan S, Lau P
Journal article
Report Results
The COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic has the potential to worsen existing health inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. We aimed to assess the impact of the pandemic on First Nations people health assessments using an interrupted time series model utilizing data extracted from the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule database. Additive triple exponential smoothing was used to model health assessments undertaken between January 2017 and December 2019. The model was used to predict health assessments between January 2020 and June 2020 with 95% confidence (P < .05). There was no significant difference between observed and predicted First Nations people health assessments in January, February, and June 2020. However, we found a statistically significant decrease in health assessments in March (16.5%), April (23.1%), and May (17.2%) 2020. The proportion of total health assessments delivered via telehealth was 0.5%, 23.6%, 17.6%, and 10.0% for March, April, May, and June 2020, respectively. The decrease in total First Nations people health assessments compounds the risk of poorer health outcomes in this population already vulnerable due to a high burden of chronic disease and considerable social, economic, and health inequalities. Strategies to improve the delivery of telehealth for First Nations people must be considered