FRIDAY, Oct. 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The rates of health care use are significantly higher after a positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) test than after a negative test, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Candace D. McNaughton, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., from Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving community-dwelling adults in Ontario with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test between Jan. 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Per-person-year rates for health care encounters were compared for 531,702 matched patients with positive and negative PCR test results.

The researchers found that compared with those with a negative test result, women with a positive PCR result for SARS-CoV-2 had a mean of 1.98 more health care encounters overall per person-year, with 0.31 more home care encounters and 0.81 more long-term care days. Women who tested positive had 6.48 more days of hospital admission and 28.37 more home care encounters at the 99th percentile per person-year. Compared with those who tested negative, men who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 had 0.66 more overall health care encounters per person-year, with 0.14 and 0.48 more outpatient encounters and long-term care days, respectively, and 0.43 fewer home care encounters. They had 8.69 more days in hospital per person-year at the 99th percentile but fewer home care and outpatient encounters (−27.31 and −0.87, respectively).

“The burden of health care use after a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test is substantial and has important health policy implications,” the authors write.

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