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1 "Kyoung Hoon Kim"
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COVID-19: Original Article
Changes in mental health service utilization before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a nationwide database analysis in Korea
Kyoung Hoon Kim, Sang Min Lee, Minha Hong, Kyu-Man Han, Jong-Woo Paik
Epidemiol Health. 2023;45:e2023022.   Published online February 14, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2023022
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDFSupplementary Material
Abstract
OBJECTIVES
The present study examined the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on mental health service utilization through a comparative analysis of nationwide data regarding inpatient care users, outpatient visits, emergency department (ED) visits, and admissions via the ED before and during the pandemic.
METHODS
Data from approximately 350,000 Koreans diagnosed with mental illness were analyzed in terms of hospitalization, outpatient visits, and ED visits between January 2018 and June 2021. An interrupted time series analysis was conducted to determine the significance of changes in mental health service utilization indicators.
RESULTS
The number of hospital admissions per patient decreased by 1.2% at the start of the pandemic and 0.7% afterward. The length of hospital stay increased by 1.8% at the outbreak of the pandemic, and then decreased by 20.2%. Although the number of outpatients increased, the number of outpatient visits per patient decreased; the number of outpatient visits for schizophrenia (3.4%) and bipolar disorder (3.5%) significantly decreased immediately post-outbreak. The number of ED visits per patient decreased both immediately post-outbreak and afterward, and ED visits for schizophrenia (19.2%), bipolar disorder (22.3%), and depression (17.4%) decreased significantly immediately post-outbreak. Admissions via the ED did not show a significant change immediately post-outbreak.
CONCLUSIONS
Mental health service utilization increased during the pandemic, but medical service use decreased overall, with a particularly significant decrease in ED utilization. As the pandemic worsened, the decline in outpatient visits became more pronounced among those with severe mental illness.
Summary
Korean summary
이 연구는 COVID-19 전후 정신질환 의료서비스 이용 변화를 분석하였다. 팬데믹 기간 중에 정신질환 의료서비스는 전반적으로 감소하였고, 특히 중증 정신질환의 외래 방문이 감소하였다. 따라서, 정신질환자의 진료 연속성을 보장하기 위한 조치가 요구된다.
Key Message
This study examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health service utilization. The mental health service utilization decreased overall after the outbreak of COVID-19, especially outpatient visits for severe mental illness significantly decreased. Therefore, countermeasures are needed to maintain the continuity of care.

Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health