Excess deaths from COVID-19 correlate with age and socio-economic status. A database study in the Stockholm region

  • Peter Strang Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; R&D Department, Stockholms Sjukhem Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Per Fürst Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Palliative Care Unit, Stockholms Sjukhem Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Torbjörn Schultz R&D Department, Stockholms Sjukhem Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden
Keywords: COVID-19, excess deaths, hospital care, nursing homes

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire health care system, internationally as well as in Sweden. We aimed to study excess deaths (all death causes, but also COVID-19-related deaths) during the COVID-19 pandemic regarding age, socio-economic status, the situation in nursing homes, and place of death for nursing home residents.

Design: We performed a descriptive regional registry data study using VAL, the Stockholm Regional Council’s central data warehouse, which covers almost all health care use in the county of Stockholm. T tests and chi-square tests were used for comparisons.

Results: Compared with 2016–2019, there were excess deaths in March–May 2020 (p < 0.0001), mainly explained by COVID-19, but in April there were also unexplained excess deaths. Individuals dying from COVID-19 were older than patients dying from other causes (p < 0.0001). There were more patient deaths among people residing in less advantaged socio-economic areas (p < 0.0001). Nursing home residents dying from COVID-19 were more often admitted to acute hospitals than residents dying from other causes (p < 0.0001). Also, the proportion of admissions of nursing home residents dying from other causes increased from April to May 2020 (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Dying from COVID-19 mainly affects the elderly, nursing home residents, and persons from less advantaged socio-economic groups. The pandemic has resulted in an increase in acute admissions of dying nursing home residents to acute hospitals.

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Published
2020-10-14
How to Cite
Strang, P., Fürst, P., & Schultz, T. (2020). Excess deaths from COVID-19 correlate with age and socio-economic status. A database study in the Stockholm region. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences, 125(4), 297–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/03009734.2020.1828513
Section
Original Articles