Introduction: The science of telemedicine has shown great advances over the past decade. However, the field needs to better understand if a change in care delivery from in-person to telehealth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will yield durable patient engagement and health outcomes for patients with obesity. The objective of this study was to examine the association of mode of healthcare utilization (telehealth versus in-person) and sociodemographic factors among patients with obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A retrospective medical chart review identified patients with obesity from a university outpatient obesity medicine clinic and a community bariatric surgery practice. Patients completed an online survey (1 June 2020–24 September 2020) to assess changes in healthcare utilization modality during subsequent changes in infection rates in the geographic area. Logistic regression analysis examined the association of mode of healthcare utilization and key sociodemographic characteristics. Results: A total of 583 patients (87% female, mean age 51.2 years (standard deviation 13.0), mean body mass index 40.2 (standard deviation 6.7), 49.2% non-Hispanic white, 28.7% non-Hispanic black, 16.4% Hispanic, 7% other ethnicity, 33.1% completed bariatric surgery) were included. Adjusted logistic regression models showed older age was inversely associated with telehealth use (adjusted odds ratio = 0.58, 95% confidence interval 0.34–0.98) and non-Hispanic black were more likely to use telehealth compared to non-Hispanic white (adjusted odds ratio = 1.72, 95% confidence interval 1.05–2.81). Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting access to healthcare among patients with obesity. Telehealth is an emerging modality that can maintain healthcare access during the pandemic, but utilization varies by age and ethnicity in this high-risk population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics