Holland, D, Heald, AH, Stedman, M, Hanna, F, Wu, P, Duff, CJ, Green, L, Robinson, S, Halsall, I, Gaskell, N, Pemberton, J, Bloor, C and Fryer, AA (2021) Assessment of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK HbA1c testing: implications for diabetes management and diagnosis. Journal of Clinical Pathology. ISSN 1472-4146

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AIMS: The COVID-19 pandemic, and the focus on mitigating its effects, has disrupted diabetes healthcare services worldwide. We aimed to quantify the effect of the pandemic on diabetes diagnosis/management, using glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) as surrogate, across six UK centres. METHODS: Using routinely collected laboratory data, we estimated the number of missed HbA1c tests for 'diagnostic'/'screening'/'management' purposes during the COVID-19 impact period (CIP; 23 March 2020 to 30 September 2020). We examined potential impact in terms of: (1) diabetes control in people with diabetes and (2) detection of new diabetes and prediabetes cases. RESULTS: In April 2020, HbA1c test numbers fell by ~80%. Overall, across six centres, 369 871 tests were missed during the 6.28 months of the CIP, equivalent to >6.6 million tests nationwide. We identified 79 131 missed 'monitoring' tests in people with diabetes. In those 28 564 people with suboptimal control, this delayed monitoring was associated with a 2-3 mmol/mol HbA1c increase. Overall, 149 455 'screening' and 141 285 'diagnostic' tests were also missed. Across the UK, our findings equate to 1.41 million missed/delayed diabetes monitoring tests (including 0.51 million in people with suboptimal control), 2.67 million screening tests in high-risk groups (0.48 million within the prediabetes range) and 2.52 million tests for diagnosis (0.21 million in the pre-diabetes range; ~70 000 in the diabetes range). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings illustrate the widespread collateral impact of implementing measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in people with, or being investigated for, diabetes. For people with diabetes, missed tests will result in further deterioration in diabetes control, especially in those whose HbA1c levels are already high.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC660 Diabetes
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2022 08:47
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 08:47
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/10308

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