BMJ Open 12 (1) e058422 [2022-01-07; online 2022-01-07]
To explore the indirect negative effects of COVID-19 restrictions (collateral damage) on the lives and health of older adults living in central Stockholm, and to characterise the sociodemographic profile of those with the highest susceptibility to this damage. Cross-sectional study. District of Kungsholmen in Stockholm, Sweden. Older adults aged 68 years and above (n=1231) who participated in the ad hoc COVID-19-related phone questionnaire administered by trained staff between May and June 2020 and who had previously attended the regular follow-up assessment of the Swedish National study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (SNAC-K) during 2016-2019. Three dimensions of collateral damage: psychological burden (feelings of worry, stress and loneliness), reductions in social and physical activities, and reductions in medical and social care use since the beginning of the pandemic. Logistic regression models were used to test the association between age, sex, education and living arrangement, and the risk of collateral damage. Vast majority of participants adhered to the national public health recommendations, with over three-quarters practising self-isolation (n=928). Half of the sample reported psychological burden, 55.3% reported reductions in social or physical activity, and 11.3% reported decreased medical or social care use. Over three quarters of participants (77.8%) were affected by at least one of the three collateral damage dimensions. Female sex was the strongest sociodemographic predictor of both individual and co-occurring dimensions of collateral damage. COVID-19 and its restrictions during the first half of 2020 had a negative effect on the health and lives of a majority of the elderly living in central Stockholm. Women were at a higher risk of these negative consequences. We emphasise the need for predefined, evidence-based interventions to support those who are most susceptible to these consequences, both during the pandemic and once the outbreak is overcome.