Chair of Epidemiology conducts new DFG project

The COVID 19 pandemic has massively changed the health behavior of the population in Germany. According to a survey by the Nielsen opinion research institute, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of people go to the doctor less often for minor complaints. Almost one in three (30 percent) has already postponed a routine checkup to avoid having to go to the doctor's office.

From May 1, 2021, the Chair of Epidemiology of Prof. Dr. Stefanie Klug will be investigating precisely this problem as part of a new DFG project, which will be funded with a total of around 500,000 euros and will run for two and a half years.

The study, entitled "Influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health care of chronically ill patients," aims to find out how the incidence and mortality of chronic diseases developed during the pandemic. Further, it will elicit the influence of patient characteristics and regional factors on the continued health care of patients and whether there is evidence that changes in outpatient care for the chronically ill are associated with changes in health status.

"Many services in the office-based setting, such as screenings or health check-ups, were completely stopped for a period of time during the pandemic," explains Prof. Klug. "Our assumption is therefore that the supply situation has not returned to normal as it was before the pandemic. Now that the second and third COVID-19 waves have also passed, the questions we want to investigate are all the more relevant."

An interdisciplinary approach combining epidemiology, general medicine and health economics will be used. Other partners include Prof. Dr. Leonie Sundmacher's Associate Professorshop of Health Economics, Prof. Dr. Norbert Donner-Banzhoff from the Department of General Medicine, Preventive and Rehabilitative Medicine at the University of Marburg, and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Bavaria (KVB), which is providing billing data for eleven million people. In addition, data from the Bavarian Cancer Registry and the Bavarian State Office of Statistics on case rates and mortality will be evaluated.

"We want to take a concrete look at how health care changed over the course of the pandemic waves," explains Marian Eberl, Research Associate at the Chair of Epidemiology. "In particular, we are focusing on how strong the first wave effect was and whether it had an immediate negative impact. We also expect to find out through this what side effects occurred."

The project consists of four modules: epidemiology, disease management, prevention and health economics, and is divided into two work programs. At the end, the results of the two programs will be linked to answer overarching questions.

"Some of the issues have already evolved in the meantime because of the second and third waves, so the overall course of the pandemic needs to be analyzed to see if deferrable appointments were less attended by patients," Eberl said. "Our study is ultimately a piece of the puzzle to form a data base and a stronger fact base. We may be able to develop recommendations for health policy based on the results."

In perspective, the results will describe potential deficiencies in the health care of specific patient cohorts and thus better prepare patients, health authorities and health policy makers for upcoming pandemics.

"The data will certainly show that in the future it will be possible to respond more quickly to such a pandemic without causing delays in health care, and that the entire health care system, including doctors' offices, will then be better prepared," said Prof. Klug.


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Prof. Dr. Stefanie Klug
Chair of Epidemiology
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 56
80992 München

phone: 089 289 24950
e-mail: stefanie.klug(at)

Marian Eberl
Chair of Epidemiology
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 56
80992 München

phone: 089 289 24958
e-mail: marian.eberl(at)

Text: Romy Schwaiger
Photos: Pixabay/private