Impact of the early COVID-19 pandemic on adult mental health-related dispensed medications, hospitalizations and specialist outpatient visits in Norway and Sweden: Interrupted time series analysis.

Publication date: Mar 31, 2024

Norway and Sweden had different early pandemic responses that may have impacted mental health management. The aim was to assess the impact of the early COVID-19 pandemic on mental health-related care. We used national registries in Norway and Sweden (1 January 2018-31 December 2020) to define 2 cohorts: (i) general adult population; and (ii) mental health adult population. Interrupted times series regression analyses evaluated step and slope changes compared to prepandemic levels for monthly rates of medications (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics/sedatives, lithium, opioid analgesics, psychostimulants), hospitalizations (for anxiety, bipolar, depressive/mood, eating and schizophrenia/delusional disorders) and specialist outpatient visits. In Norway, immediate reductions occurred in the general population for medications (-12% antidepressants to -7% hypnotics/sedatives) except for antipsychotics; and hospitalizations (-33% anxiety disorders to -17% bipolar disorders). Increasing slope change occurred for all medications except psychostimulants (+1. 1%/month hypnotics/sedatives to +1. 7%/month antidepressants); and hospitalization for anxiety disorders (+5. 5%/month), depressive/mood disorders (+1. 7%/month) and schizophrenia/delusional disorders (+2%/month). In Sweden, immediate reductions occurred for antidepressants (-7%) and opioids (-10%) and depressive/mood disorder hospitalizations (-11%) only with increasing slope change in psychostimulant prescribing of (0. 9%/month). In contrast to Norway, increasing slope changes occurred in specialist outpatient visits for depressive/mood disorders, eating disorders and schizophrenia/delusional disorders (+1. 5, +1. 9 and +2. 3%/month, respectively). Similar changes occurred in the pre-existing mental health cohorts. Differences in early COVID-19 policy response may have contributed to differences in adult mental healthcare provision in Norway and Sweden.

Concepts Keywords
Eating COVID‐19
Monthly healthcare delivery
Norway mental health
Opioids Norway
Outpatient pandemic


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO time
disease VO population
disease VO monthly
disease MESH schizophrenia
disease MESH delusional disorders
disease MESH anxiety disorders
disease MESH bipolar disorders
disease MESH mood disorders
disease MESH disorders eating

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