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Caregivers Hesitant to Take Children to ED During COVID-19

THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2021 -- Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in four caregivers reported being hesitant to seek emergency department care for their child, according to a research letter published online Jan. 21 in Academic Emergency Medicine.

Michelle L. Macy, M.D., from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and colleagues conducted a web-based survey of 3,896 caregivers of patients younger than 18 years to characterize hesitancy to seek emergency care for children in the Chicago area the first week of May 2020.

The researchers found that 23 percent of caregivers were hesitant to seek emergency care. There were differences noted in hesitancy across Child Opportunity Index (COI) levels, with 27 percent of the 1,305 caregivers from very low/low COI areas expressing hesitancy versus 23 percent of the 740 caregivers from moderate COI areas and 19 percent of the 1,851 caregivers from high/very high COI areas. Other factors associated with hesitancy included Black/African American, Latinx, or Asian race/ethnicity; child age older than 3 years; caregiver age of 18 to 30 years; language preference other than English; public payer status; high COVID-19 positivity rate ZIP code; and a cancelled/rescheduled appointment.

"Greater hesitancy within vulnerable populations could exacerbate health disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic," the authors write.

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