Utilization of healthcare prior to endometriosis diagnosis: a Danish case-control study.
Melgaard A., Vestergaard CH., Kesmodel US., Risør BW., Forman A., Zondervan K., Bech BH., Rytter D.
Study questionDo women with endometriosis have higher utilization of primary and secondary healthcare prior to diagnosis compared to women without endometriosis?Summary answerWomen with a hospital-based diagnosis of endometriosis had an overall higher utilization of both primary and secondary healthcare in all 10 years prior to diagnosis.What is known alreadyEndometriosis is associated with a diagnostic delay, but only a few studies have investigated the potential consequences of this delay with regard to the utilization of healthcare. To the best of our knowledge, no study has investigated it in a period corresponding to the estimated diagnostic delay.Study design, size, durationThis national Danish registry-based case-control study included 129 696 women. Cases were women with a first-time hospital-based diagnosis of endometriosis between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2017.Participants/materials, setting, methodsWe identified 21 616 cases using density sampling. Each case was matched on age at the date of diagnosis (index date) to five women without diagnosed endometriosis (n = 108 080). The utilization of healthcare was assessed for the 10 years before the index.Main results and the role of chanceCases had significantly higher use of healthcare in all 10 years preceding the index. The mean number of yearly contacts with the GP was 9.99 for cases and 7.85 for controls, with an adjusted incidence rate ratio of 1.28 (1.27; 1.29). For hospital contacts, the association increased slightly in the first 9 years and was most profound in the last year preceding index when the adjusted incidence rate ratio was 2.26 (95% CI 2.28; 2.31).Limitations, reasons for cautionWe were not able to include women with an endometriosis diagnosis from the general practitioner or private gynaecologist. Therefore, our results are only applicable to hospital-based diagnoses of endometriosis. We do not have information on the specific reasons for contacting the healthcare providers and we can therefore only speculate that the higher utilization of healthcare among cases was related to endometriosis.Wider implications of the findingsThis study is in agreement with the other known studies on the subject. Future studies should include specific reasons for contacting the healthcare system and thereby identify any specific contact patterns for women with endometriosis. With this knowledge, healthcare professionals could be better at relating certain healthcare seeking behaviour to endometriosis earlier and thereby reduce the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis.Study funding/competing interest(s)This study is supported by grants from the project 'Finding Endometriosis using Machine Learning' (FEMaLe/101017562), which has received funding from The European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and Helsefonden (21-B-0141). K.Z. report grants from Bayer AG, Roche Inc. and Volition, royalties from Oxford-Bayer scientific collaboration in gynaecological therapies, non-financial collaboration with the World Endometriosis Society and World Endometriosis Research Foundation and is a Wellbeing of Women research advisory committee member. All this is outside the submitted work. The other authors have no conflict of interest to declare.Trial registration numberN/A.