Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Hospital Visits of Rural Residents in Guangdong, China: A Controlled Interrupted Time Series Study

Wenfang Zhong, Rong Yin, Yan Pan, Xiangliang Zhang, Andre M.N. Renzaho, Li Ling, Xingge Li, Wen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To date, there is a lack of comprehensive understanding regarding the effect of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the healthcare-seeking behavior and utilization of health services in rural areas where healthcare resources are scarce. We aimed to quantify the long-term impact of COVID-19 on hospital visits of rural residents in China. We collected data on the hospitalization of all residents covered by national health insurance schemes in a county in southern China from April 2017 to March 2021. We analyzed changes in residents’ hospitalization visits in different areas, i.e., within-county, out-of-county but within-city, and out-of-city, via a controlled interrupted time series approach. Subgroup analyses based on gender, age, hospital levels, and ICD-10 classifications for hospital visits were examined. After experiencing a significant decline in hospitalization cases after the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, the pattern of rural residents’ hospitalization utilization differed markedly by disease classification. Notably, we found that the overall demand for hospitalization utilization of mental and neurological illness among rural residents in China has been suppressed during the pandemic, while the utilization of inpatient services for other common chronic diseases was redistributed across regions. Our findings suggest that in resource-poor areas, focused strategies are urgently needed to ensure that people have access to adequate healthcare services, particularly mental and neurological healthcare, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-20

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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