Purpose The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the isolation of the population in Israel, including the elderly. The present study aimed to compare the consumption of medical services among adults over the age of 65 in Israel at the time of the first COVID-19 lockdown relative to the corresponding period the year before. Methods We conducted a retrospective longitudinal observational quantitative research based on the Natali Healthcare Solutions Israel database of subscribers. Company subscribers over the age of 65 (N = 103,955) were included in the sample (64.5% women) in two time periods, before the COVID-19 outbreak-P1, in 2019, and during the first COVID-19 lockdown- P2 in 2020. Logistic regression was applied to examine service consumption for study variables. Results The average number of referrals to services was lower during the COVID-19 lockdown period (M = 0.3658, SD = 0.781) compared to the corresponding period in the previous year (M = 0.5402, SD = 0.935). The average number of ambulance orders, doctor home visits and service refusals were higher when compared to the same period in the previous year. During both time periods, women (P1- M = 0.5631, SD = 0.951; P2- M = 0.3846, SD = 0.800) required significantly more (p < .000) services than men (P1- M = 0.5114, SD = 0.910; P2- M = 0.3417, SD = 0.753). Older, widowed people, living in non-Jewish/mixed localities, or in average or below average socioeconomic status localities required relatively more services to those with opposite socio-demographic traits (p < .000). Summary and conclusions In a large sample of elderly in Israel, findings indicate a decrease in referrals to medical care during the first COVID-19 lockdown period, yet an increase in ambulance orders, doctor visits and service refusals. Socio-demographic characteristics showed a similar effect in both time periods. The period of the first COVID-19 lockdown was characterized by a higher incidence of medical service refusals as compared to the equivalent period in the previous year.
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