Background: Studies assessing the indirect impact of COVID-19 using mathematical models have increased in recent years. This scoping review aims to identify modelling studies assessing the potential impact of disruptions to essential health services caused by COVID-19 and to summarise the characteristics of disruption and the models used to assess the disruptions.
Methods: Eligible studies were included if they used any models to assess the impact of COVID-19 disruptions on any health services. Articles published from January 2020 to December 2022 were identified from PubMed, Embase and CINAHL, using detailed searches with key concepts including COVID-19, modelling and healthcare disruptions. Two reviewers independently extracted the data in four domains. A descriptive analysis of the included studies was performed under the format of a narrative report.
Results: This scoping review has identified a total of 52 modelling studies that employed several models (n=116) to assess the potential impact of disruptions to essential health services. The majority of the models were simulation models (n=86; 74.1%). Studies covered a wide range of health conditions from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases. COVID-19 has been reported to disrupt supply of health services, demand for health services and social change affecting factors that influence health. The most common outcomes reported in the studies were clinical outcomes such as mortality and morbidity. Twenty-five studies modelled various mitigation strategies; maintaining critical services by ensuring resources and access to services are found to be a priority for reducing the overall impact.
Conclusion: A number of models were used to assess the potential impact of disruptions to essential health services on various outcomes. There is a need for collaboration among stakeholders to enhance the usefulness of any modelling. Future studies should consider disparity issues for more comprehensive findings that could ultimately facilitate policy decision-making to maximise benefits to all.