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Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in colorectal cancer screening in a large organization with universal insurance before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

OBJECTIVES: Israel is regarded as a country with a developed economy and a moderate income inequality index. In this population-based study, we aimed to measure the inequalities in colorectal cancer screening within Clalit Health, an organization with universal insurance, before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

SETTING: Retrospective analysis within Clalit Health Services, Israel.

METHODS: We evaluated the rate of being up to date with screening (having a colonoscopy within 10 years or a fecal occult blood test within 1 year) and the colonoscopy completion rate (having a colonoscopy within 6 months of a positive fecal occult blood test) among subjects aged 50-75 in 2019-2021.

RESULTS: In 2019, out of 918,135 subjects, 61.3% were up to date with screening; high socioeconomic status: 65.9% (referent), medium-socioeconomic status: 60.1% (odds ratio 0.81, 95% confidence interval 0.80-0.82), low-socioeconomic status: 59.0% (odds ratio 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.74-0.75); Jews: 61.9% (referent), Arabs: 59.7% (odds ratio 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.90-0.92), Ultraorthodox-Jews: 51.7% (odds ratio 0.77, 95% confidence interval 0.75-0.78). Out of 21,308 with a positive fecal occult blood test, the colonoscopy completion rate was 51.8%; high-socioeconomic status: 59.8% (referent), medium-socioeconomic status: 54.1% (odds ratio 0.79, 95% confidence interval 0.73-0.86), low-socioeconomic status: 45.5% (odds ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval 0.56-0.65); Jews: 54.7% (referent), Ultraorthodox-Jews: 51.4% (odds ratio 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.90-0.92), Arabs: 44.7% (odds ratio 0.77, 95% confidence interval 0.75-0.78). In 2020-2021, there was a slight drop in the rate of being up to date with screening, while most of the discrepancies were kept or slightly increased with time.

CONCLUSIONS: We report significant inequalities in colorectal cancer screening before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in Israel, despite a declared policy of equality and universal insurance.

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