Sociodemographic characteristics and COVID-19 testing rates: spatiotemporal patterns and impact of test accessibility in Sweden.

Kennedy B, Varotsis G, Hammar U, Nguyen D, Carrasquilla GD, van Zoest V, Kristiansson RS, Fitipaldi H, Dekkers KF, Daivadanam M, Martinell M, Björk J, Fall T

Eur J Public Health - (-) - [2023-11-27; online 2023-11-27]

Diagnostic testing is essential for disease surveillance and test-trace-isolate efforts. We aimed to investigate if residential area sociodemographic characteristics and test accessibility were associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing rates. We included 426 224 patient-initiated COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction tests from Uppsala County in Sweden from 24 June 2020 to 9 February 2022. Using Poisson regression analyses, we investigated if postal code area Care Need Index (CNI; median 1.0, IQR 0.8-1.4), a composite measure of sociodemographic factors used in Sweden to allocate primary healthcare resources, was associated with COVID-19 daily testing rates after adjustments for community transmission. We assessed if the distance to testing station influenced testing, and performed a difference-in-difference-analysis of a new testing station targeting a disadvantaged neighbourhood. We observed that CNI, i.e. primary healthcare need, was negatively associated with COVID-19 testing rates in inhabitants 5-69 years. More pronounced differences were noted across younger age groups and in Uppsala City, with test rate ratios in children (5-14 years) ranging from 0.56 (95% CI 0.47-0.67) to 0.87 (95% CI 0.80-0.93) across three pandemic waves. Longer distance to the nearest testing station was linked to lower testing rates, e.g. every additional 10 km was associated with a 10-18% decrease in inhabitants 15-29 years in Uppsala County. The opening of the targeted testing station was associated with increased testing, including twice as high testing rates in individuals aged 70-105, supporting an intervention effect. Ensuring accessible testing across all residential areas constitutes a promising tool to decrease inequalities in testing.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Funder: Vinnova

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38011903

DOI 10.1093/eurpub/ckad209

Crossref 10.1093/eurpub/ckad209

pii: 7452814

Publications 9.5.0