Assessment of regional variability in COVID-19 outcomes among patients with cancer in the United States
Hawley JE, Sun T, Chism DD, et al. Assessment of Regional Variability in COVID-19 Outcomes Among Patients With Cancer in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(1):e2142046. Published 2022 Jan 4. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.42046
Importance: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a distinct spatiotemporal pattern in the United States. Patients with cancer are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19, but it is not well known whether COVID-19 outcomes in this patient population were associated with geography.
Objective: To quantify spatiotemporal variation in COVID-19 outcomes among patients with cancer.
Design, setting, and participants: This registry-based retrospective cohort study included patients with a historical diagnosis of invasive malignant neoplasm and laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection between March and November 2020. Data were collected from cancer care delivery centers in the United States.
Exposures: Patient residence was categorized into 9 US census divisions. Cancer center characteristics included academic or community classification, rural-urban continuum code (RUCC), and social vulnerability index.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was 30-day all-cause mortality. The secondary composite outcome consisted of receipt of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, and all-cause death. Multilevel mixed-effects models estimated associations of center-level and census division-level exposures with outcomes after adjustment for patient-level risk factors and quantified variation in adjusted outcomes across centers, census divisions, and calendar time.
Results: Data for 4749 patients (median [IQR] age, 66 [56-76] years; 2439 [51.4%] female individuals, 1079 [22.7%] non-Hispanic Black individuals, and 690 [14.5%] Hispanic individuals) were reported from 83 centers in the Northeast (1564 patients [32.9%]), Midwest (1638 [34.5%]), South (894 [18.8%]), and West (653 [13.8%]). After adjustment for patient characteristics, including month of COVID-19 diagnosis, estimated 30-day mortality rates ranged from 5.2% to 26.6% across centers. Patients from centers located in metropolitan areas with population less than 250 000 (RUCC 3) had lower odds of 30-day mortality compared with patients from centers in metropolitan areas with population at least 1 million (RUCC 1) (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.31; 95% CI, 0.11-0.84). The type of center was not significantly associated with primary or secondary outcomes. There were no statistically significant differences in outcome rates across the 9 census divisions, but adjusted mortality rates significantly improved over time (eg, September to November vs March to May: aOR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.17-0.58).
Conclusions and relevance: In this registry-based cohort study, significant differences in COVID-19 outcomes across US census divisions were not observed. However, substantial heterogeneity in COVID-19 outcomes across cancer care delivery centers was found. Attention to implementing standardized guidelines for the care of patients with cancer and COVID-19 could improve outcomes for these vulnerable patients.