The first research paper to use data from the Greater Manchester Care Record has been published in The Lancet.
The paper, entitled: ‘Temporal trends in primary care-recorded self-harm during and beyond the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: Time series analysis of electronic healthcare records for 2.8 million patients in the Greater Manchester Care Record‘, was published on 31 October 2021.
The study used de-identified, primary care health records, analysing clinical codes entered into the health records from 2019, of patients registered with a GP practice in Greater Manchester.
Access to this data helped to provide “findings that are representative of patients across this large and socially diverse conurbation”, said the authors.
Across the study’s observation period, the researchers analysed trends by month, gender, age and deprivation quantile. The researchers also explored changes depending on the lockdown measures during the pandemic. It examined frequencies of monthly primary care recorded self-harm, from March 2020 to May 2021, compared to the same months in 2019.
The researchers highlighted: “Continued monitoring of numbers of recorded self-harm episodes is important in understanding how perceptions of the accessibility of general practice and hospital emergency departments has fluctuated through the course of the pandemic, as well as providing insight into gaps in help-seeking that have arisen and potential increases in clinical need.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and associated national lockdowns and regional restrictions persisting into the second quarter of 2021 appear to have had a marked and prolonged impact on levels of primary care-recorded self-harm. Reductions among those living in more deprived neighbourhoods is evidence that deepening of pre-pandemic health inequalities is persisting. The larger reduction in recorded self-harm among men suggests a potential treatment gap.
“During the ten months leading to May 2021, adolescents aged 10–17 years were more likely to have an episode of self-harm recorded in primary care than in the same months in 2019, suggesting the clinical need among this group has increased. The trends we observed suggest the COVID-19 pandemic has implications for clinicians’ ability to assess the needs and risks of individuals. Some patients may have experienced untreated deterioration in their mental health up to over a year after the first wave of the pandemic. There are also important implications for potential demand experienced by primary care and mental health services.
“Inequalities in access to healthcare remain heightened, with people in the most deprived neighbourhoods less likely to be in contact with health services for self-harm than in pre-pandemic months. The continued impact on men, who are at particularly high risk of subsequent suicide if they have harmed themselves, may suggest ongoing unmet need, while the increase in primary care recorded self-harm among young people aged 10 to 17 could reflect increased prevalence of self-harm. Prioritising capacity of health services to manage changes in demand and potential unidentified need in some groups are important implications.”
The authors and researchers included: Sarah Steeg, Lana Bojanić, George Tilston, Richard Williams, David A. Jenkins, Matthew J. Carr, Niels Peek, Darren M. Ashcroft, Nav Kapur, Jennifer Voorhees and Roger T. Webb.
To read the complete paper, please click here.