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Understanding inequalities in COVID-19 outcomes following hospital admission for people with intellectual disability compared to the general population: a matched cohort study in the UK.

  • Baksh, R Asaad1, 2
  • Pape, Sarah E3, 2, 4
  • Smith, James4
  • Strydom, André3, 2, 4
  • 1 Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK [email protected]
  • 2 The LonDowns Consortium, London, UK.
  • 3 Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
  • 4 South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.
Published Article
BMJ Open
Publication Date
Oct 04, 2021
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-052482
PMID: 34607870


This study explores the hospital journey of patients with intellectual disabilities (IDs) compared with the general population after admission for COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic (when demand on inpatient resources was high) to identify disparities in treatment and outcomes. Matched cohort study; an ID cohort of 506 patients were matched based on age, sex and ethnicity with a control group using a 1:3 ratio to compare outcomes from the International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infections Consortium WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol UK. Admissions for COVID-19 from UK hospitals; data on symptoms, severity, access to interventions, complications, mortality and length of stay were extracted. Non-invasive respiratory support, intubation, tracheostomy, ventilation and admission to intensive care units (ICU). Subjective presenting symptoms such as loss of taste/smell were less frequently reported in ID patients, whereas indicators of more severe disease such as altered consciousness and seizures were more common. Controls had higher rates of cardiovascular risk factors, asthma, rheumatological disorder and smoking. ID patients were admitted with higher respiratory rates (median=22, range=10-48) and were more likely to require oxygen therapy (35.1% vs 28.9%). Despite this, ID patients were 37% (95% CI 13% to 57%) less likely to receive non-invasive respiratory support, 40% (95% CI 7% to 63%) less likely to receive intubation and 50% (95% CI 30% to 66%) less likely to be admitted to the ICU while in hospital. They had a 56% (95% CI 17% to 102%) increased risk of dying from COVID-19 after they were hospitalised and were dying 1.44 times faster (95% CI 1.13 to 1.84) compared with controls. There have been significant disparities in healthcare between people with ID and the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have contributed to excess mortality in this group. © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.

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