Sociodemographic Comparison of Children with High-risk Medical Conditions Referred vs Identified Through Screening Plus Outreach for COVID-19 Therapeutics

Simon Parzen-Johnson, Shan Sun, Ami B. Patel, Tonya L. Scardina, Seema K. Shah, Sameer J. Patel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Minoritized groups are less likely to receive COVID-19 therapeutics, but few studies have identified potential methods to reduce disparities. Objective: To determine whether screening plus outreach, when compared with referral alone, increases identification of vulnerable pediatric patients at high risk for severe disease eligible for COVID-19 therapeutics from low-resourced communities. Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective cohort study of COVID-19 medication allocation between January 1, 2022, and February 15, 2022, at Lurie Children's Hospital, a quaternary care children's hospital, in Chicago, Illinois. The cohorts were pediatric patients referred for COVID-19 therapeutics or with a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction within the hospital system followed by outreach. Screening involved daily review of positive cases of SARS-CoV-2, followed by medical record review for high-risk conditions, and communication with clinicians and/or patients and families to offer therapy. Exposures: Diagnosis of COVID-19. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary measure was difference in child opportunity index (COI) scores between the 2 cohorts. Secondary measures included presence and duration of symptoms at diagnosis, medication uptake, race and ethnicity, insurance type, qualifying medical condition, sex, primary language, and age. Results: Of 145 total patients, the median (IQR) age was 15 (13-17) years, and most were male (87 participants [60.0%]), enrolled in public insurance (83 participants [57.2%]), and members of minoritized racial and ethnic groups (103 participants [71.0%]). The most common qualifying conditions were asthma and/or obesity (71 participants [49.0%]). From 9869 SARS-CoV-2 tests performed, 94 eligible patients were identified via screening for COVID-19 therapeutics. Fifty-one patients were identified via referral. Thirty-two patients received medication, of whom 8 (25%) were identified by screening plus outreach alone. Compared with referred patients, patients in the screening plus outreach group were more likely to have moderate, low, or very low COI composite scores (70 patients [74.5%] vs 27 patients [52.9%]); public insurance (65 patients [69.1%] vs 18 patients [35.3%]); and asthma or obesity (60 patients [63.8%] vs 11 patients [21.6%]). Patients in the referral group were more likely to be non-Hispanic White (23 patients [45.1%] vs 19 patients [20.2%]) and receive medication (24 patients [47.1%] vs 8 patients [8.5%]). Conclusions and Relevance: Compared with referral patients, screening plus outreach patients for COVID-19 medications were more socially vulnerable, with lower COI scores, and more likely to have asthma or obesity. Future studies should investigate communication strategies to improve uptake of these medications after outreach..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2248671
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 28 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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