Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on HbA1c Testing: Prioritization of High-Risk Cases and Impact of Social Deprivation

Holland, David; Heald, Adrian H.; Hanna, Fahmy F.W.; Stedman, Mike; Wu, Pensée; Sim, Julius; Duff, Christopher J.; Duce, Helen; Green, Lewis; Scargill, Jonathan; Howe, Jonathon D.; Robinson, Sarah; Halsall, Ian; Gaskell, Neil; Davison, Andrew; Simms, Mark; Denny, Angela; Langan, Martin; Fryer, Anthony A.

The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on HbA1c Testing: Prioritization of High-Risk Cases and Impact of Social Deprivation Thumbnail


David Holland

Adrian H. Heald

Fahmy F.W. Hanna

Mike Stedman

Christopher J. Duff

Helen Duce

Lewis Green

Jonathan Scargill

Jonathon D. Howe

Sarah Robinson

Ian Halsall

Neil Gaskell

Andrew Davison

Mark Simms

Angela Denny

Martin Langan


INTRODUCTION: Studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected people with diabetes and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. During the first 6 months of the UK lockdown,?>?6.6 M glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) tests were missed. We now report variability in the recovery of HbA1c testing, and its association with diabetes control and demographic characteristics.

METHODS: In a service evaluation, we examined HbA1c testing across ten UK sites (representing 9.9% of England's population) from January 2019 to December 2021. We compared monthly requests from April 2020 to those in the equivalent 2019 months. We examined effects of (i) HbA1c level, (ii) between-practice variability, and (iii) practice demographics.

RESULTS: In April 2020, monthly requests dropped to 7.9-18.1% of 2019 volumes. By July 2020, testing had recovered to 61.7-86.9% of 2019 levels. During April-June 2020, we observed a 5.1-fold variation in the reduction of HbA1c testing between general practices (12.4-63.8% of 2019 levels). There was evidence of limited prioritization of testing for patients with HbA1c?>?86 mmol/mol during April-June 2020 (4.6% of total tests vs. 2.6% during 2019). Testing in areas with the highest social disadvantage was lower during the first lockdown (April-June 2020; trend test p?<?0.001) and two subsequent periods (July-September and October-December 2020; both p?<?0.001). By February 2021, testing in the highest deprivation group had a cumulative fall in testing of 34.9% of 2019 levels versus 24.6% in those in the lowest group.

CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight that the pandemic response had a major impact on diabetes monitoring and screening. Despite limited test prioritization in the?>?86 mmol/mol group, this failed to acknowledge that those in the 59-86 mmol/mol group require consistent monitoring to achieve the best outcomes. Our findings provide additional evidence that those from poorer backgrounds were disproportionately disadvantaged. Healthcare services should redress this health inequality.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 7, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 22, 2023
Publication Date 2023-04
Publicly Available Date May 30, 2023
Journal Diabetes Therapy
Print ISSN 1869-6953
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Pages 691-707
Keywords Glycated haemoglobin; HbA1c; Diabetes mellitus; Monitoring; Index of multiple deprivation; Pandemic; COVID-19; Recovery
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations