The impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic disparities in presentation with perforated appendicitis in children: A retrospective cohort study.

Publication date: Mar 01, 2024

Children from racial and ethnic minority groups have higher prevalence of perforated appendicitis, and the COVID-19 pandemic worsened racial and ethnic health-related disparities. We hypothesized that the incidence of perforated appendicitis worsened for children from racial and ethnic minorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We performed a retrospective cohort study of the Pediatric Health Information System for children ages 2-18y undergoing appendectomy pre-pandemic (3/19/2019-3/18/2020) and intra-pandemic (3/19/2020-3/30/2021). The primary outcome was presentation with perforated appendicitis. Multivariable logistic regression with mixed effects estimated the likelihood of presentation with perforated appendicitis. Covariates included race, ethnicity, pandemic status, Child Opportunity Index, gender, insurance, age, and hospital region. Overall, 33,727 children underwent appendectomy: 16,048 (47. 6 %) were Non-Hispanic White, 12,709 (37. 7 %) were Hispanic, 2261 (6. 7 %) were Non-Hispanic Black, 960 (2. 8 %) were Asian, and 1749 (5. 2 %) Other. Overall perforated appendicitis rates were unchanged during the pandemic (37. 4 % intra-pandemic, 36. 4 % pre-pandemic, p = 0. 06). Hispanic children were more likely to present with perforated appendicitis intra-pandemic versus pre-pandemic (OR 1. 18, 95%CI: 1. 07, 1. 13). Hispanic children had higher odds of perforated appendicitis versus Non-Hispanic White children pre-pandemic (OR 1. 10, 95%CI: 1. 00, 1. 20) which increased intra-pandemic (OR 1. 19, 95%CI: 1. 09, 1. 30). Publicly-insured children had increased odds of perforated appendicitis intra-pandemic versus pre-pandemic (OR 1. 14, 95%CI: 1. 03, 1. 25), and had increased odds of perforated appendicitis versus privately-insured children (intra-pandemic OR 1. 26, 95%CI: 1. 16, 1. 36; pre-pandemic OR 1. 12, 95%CI: 1. 04, 1. 22). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hispanic and publicly-insured children were more likely to present with perforated appendicitis, suggesting that the pandemic exacerbated existing disparities in healthcare for children with appendicitis. We found that Hispanic children and children with public insurance were more likely to present with perforated appendicitis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health efforts aimed at ameliorating racial and ethnic disparities created during the COVID-19 pandemic should consider increasing healthcare access for Hispanic children to address bias, racism, and systemic barriers that may prevent families from seeking care.

Concepts Keywords
Appendectomy Appendicitis
Hispanic COVID-19
Racism Disparities


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH perforated appendicitis

Original Article

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