Cancer care access in Chile’s vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cuadrado et al.


To examine the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on cancer care access in Chile, analyzing differential effects by insurance type, gender, and age.


We conducted a quasi-experimental study using interrupted time series analysis. We used multiple data sources for a broad evaluation of cancer-related health care utilization from January 2017 to December 2020. We fit negative binomial models by population groups for a range of services and diagnoses.


A sharp drop in oncology health care utilization in March was followed by a slow, incomplete recovery over 2020. Cumulative cancer-related services, diagnostic confirmations, and sick leaves were reduced by one-third in 2020; the decrease was more pronounced among women and the publicly insured. Early diagnosis was missed in 5 132 persons with four common cancers.


The pandemic stressed the Chilean health system, decreasing access to essential services, with a profound impact on cancer care. Oncology service reductions preceded large-scale lockdowns and supply-side disruptions. Importantly, not all population groups were equally affected, with patterns suggesting that gender and socioeconomic inequalities were exacerbated.

All articles from this supplement are available free of charge and in full text in English in the American Journal of Public Health and Spanish in the Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública.

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