02 Jun COVID-19 Death Rates Higher For Patients With Disabilities
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Margaret A. Turk, MD
Distinguished Service Professor
Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Pediatrics, Public Health & Preventive Medicine
SUNY Upstate Medical University
All authors contributed to these responses. (Margaret A. Turk MD, Scott D. Landes PhD, Margaret K. Formica PhD,
Katherine D. Goss MPH)
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Throughout this pandemic, there have been published reports related to vulnerable populations and severity of disease with COVID-19, however disability populations have not been studied. People with disabilities in fact report many of the risk factors for severe outcomes from this virus, usually at younger ages. One such population is people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), with estimates of 2.6 to 4 million people living in the US – and also with reported high prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and pulmonary conditions. These comorbid health conditions are reported as common risk factors for severe outcomes with COVID-19, along with older age.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Access to robust national and international electronic medical record data on the TriNetX platform provided us with a rare opportunity to quickly assess the impact of a novel virus in a population that is often overlooked. Our study reports that among people positively diagnosed with COVID-19, death rates are higher for people with than without IDD at ages 0-17 and 18-74. However, death rates are similar at ages 75 and over.
Although we cannot test to determine causes with this data, we suspect that this difference is likely related to higher prevalence of the comorbid health conditions among those with IDD related to COVID-19 severity, and/or a higher percentage of people with IDD living in assisted congregate residential settings.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The needs of people with disability are often forgotten in health care service and policy decisions. More attention is needed to this vulnerable health population, as highlighted by our study of people with IDD, in order to ensure their safety and well-being during this pandemic and other future emergencies. For people with IDD in particular, who may be living in assisted congregate residential settings, this includes careful attention to the effects of public policies (PPE prioritization, funding streams) on the ability of residential providers to guarantee quality care during this time.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Our study highlights the age effect within a population who often die at younger ages and the presence of multiple health conditions across all ages as risk factors for poor outcomes. We focused on people with IDD, however there are other disability groups with similar health profiles. We recommend further research about COVID-19 outcomes among this and other disability groups, monitoring age related trends, living arrangements, and other risk factors, and using available data sources.
There are no disclosures.
Margaret A. Turk et al. Intellectual and Developmental Disability and COVID-19 Case-Fatality Trends: TriNetX Analysis, Disability and Health Journal (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2020.100942
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