Changes in dementia diagnoses in Sweden during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMC Geriatr. 2022 Apr 26;22(1):365. doi: 10.1186/s12877-022-03070-y.


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused large disruptions to healthcare systems. Refocus on COVID-19 related care might have contributed to indirect effects on other healthcare areas. Care focused on acute conditions have been negatively affected although research into the effects on chronic and care intensive patient groups such as patients with dementia diseases is lacking. In this study we evaluated dementia diagnosis trends in Sweden during 2015-2020 according to International Classification of Disease version 10 coding of common dementia diseases.

Methods: Regional and national statistics in the form of International Classification of Disease version 10 coding, COVID-19 incidence, mortality data, and population census data were collected from the National Institute of Health and Welfare. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify trends of dementia diagnosis during 2015-2020. Correlation test was performed between COVID-19 incidence, mortality rates, and dementia coding.

Results: Dementia diagnosis incidence has been declining since 2015 and further decline was noted in many regions in Sweden during 2020. As COVID-19 incidence increased, fewer cases of dementia were diagnosed, a decrease that differentially impacted women and those who were advanced in age.

Conclusions: Dementia diagnosis incidence in Sweden has been on a decline since 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a further larger decline in dementia diagnosis incidence during 2020. COVID-19 incidence, but not mortality, was associated with decrease in dementia diagnosis incidence. There might be a large number of undiagnosed patients with dementia and healthcare reforms should be enacted to address this. Women and elderly are particularly vulnerable groups.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; COVID-19; Dementia; Diagnosis; Sweden; Vascular dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Dementia* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pandemics
  • Sweden / epidemiology