Long-term care use, hospitalizations and mortality during COVID-19 in Finland and Sweden: A nationwide register-based study in 2020

Pierre Olivier Blotière, Géric Maura, Jani Raitanen, Jutta Pulkki, Leena Forma, Kristina Johnell, Mari Aaltonen, Jonas W. Wastesson

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Abstract

Aim: To describe long-term care (LTC) use in Finland and Sweden in 2020, by reporting residential entry and exit patterns including hospital admissions and mortality, compared with the 2018–2019 period and community-living individuals. Methods: From national registers in Finland and Sweden, all individuals 70+ were included. Using the Finnish and Swedish study populations in January 2018 as the standard population, we reported changes in sex- and age-standardized monthly rates of entry into and exit from LTC facilities, mortality and hospital admission among LTC residents and community-living individuals in 2020. Results: Around 850,000 Finns and 1.4 million Swedes 70+ were included. LTC use decreased in both countries from 2018 to 2020. In the first wave (March/April 2020), Finland experienced a decrease in LTC entry rates and an increase in LTC exit rates, both more marked than Sweden. This was largely due to short-term movements. Mortality rates peaked in April and December 2020 for LTC residents in Finland, while mortality peaked for both community-living individuals and LTC residents in Sweden. A decrease in hospital admissions from LTC facilities occurred in April 2020 and was less marked in Finland versus Sweden. Conclusions: During the first wave of the pandemic mortality was consistently higher in Sweden. We also found a larger decrease in LTC use and, among LTC residents, a smaller decrease in hospital admissions in Finland than in Sweden. This study calls for assessing the health consequences of the differences observed between these two Scandinavian countries as part of the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalSCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Aged
  • COVID-19
  • hospitalization
  • long-term care
  • mortality
  • register

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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