Decline in hospital visits by patients with schizophrenia early in the COVID-19 outbreak in Korea
Seunghyong Ryu 1, Hee Jung Nam 2, Seon-Hwa Baek 1, Min Jhon 1, Jae-Min Kim 1, Sung-Wan Kim 1*
1Department of Psychiatry, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Republic of Korea, 2Seoul Medical Center
Received: April 2, 2021; Revised: May 16, 2021; Accepted: May 17, 2021; Published online: May 17, 2021.
© The Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Objective: This study investigated trends in hospital utilization by patients with schizophrenia during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Korea.
Methods: The Prophet algorithm was used to predict the monthly number of patients with schizophrenia in 2020 based on medical insurance data between 2010 and 2019. The projected expectations were compared with the actual number of patients receiving outpatient and inpatient treatment each month in the first half of 2020. We conduct interrupted time series analyses of short-term data to determine the significance of recent changes in the trend of hospital visits by patients with schizophrenia.
Results: The prediction model showed that the actual number of patients receiving treatment each month during the early COVID-19 outbreak decreased by up to 3.6% compared to the projected expectations. The interrupted time series model also revealed a significant change in hospital utilization compared to the year before the onset of COVID-19 in Korea (F = 8.961, P = 0.010).
Conclusions: This suggests that many patients with schizophrenia were not receiving adequate treatment during the COVID-19 outbreak. A strategy should be developed to keep treating patients with schizophrenia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19, Schizophrenia, Interrupted time series analysis, Trends