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Effects of Sociodemographic and Child Opportunity Index on Pediatric Plastic and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Volume Trends in the COVID-19 Pandemic.

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused disruptions to pediatric surgical care. Although surgical capacity has returned to the prepandemic state, barriers to surgical access may still exist for children who are medically underserved. We assessed pediatric plastic and oral and maxillofacial surgical volumes by sociodemographic characteristics before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: A 72-month retrospective cohort analysis of 10,681 pediatric plastic and oral and maxillofacial procedures between 2016 and 2021 was conducted. Multivariable logistic regression and interrupted time series analyses were used to analyze surgical volume trends by sociodemographic groups and Child Opportunity Index (COI).

RESULTS: Compared with prepandemic, patients undergoing procedures were more likely to be older than 18 years ( P < 0.001) and Hispanic/Latino (adjusted odds ratio 1.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-1.68; P < 0.01). Surgical volume trends among patients from the lowest COI levels were lower than where they were estimated to have been if the pandemic did not occur ( P = 0.040). Patients who spoke a primary language other than English or Spanish ( P = 0.02) and patients with the lowest COI levels ( P = 0.04) continued to have unrecovered surgical volumes.

CONCLUSIONS: There were differences in the sociodemographic case-mix of patients undergoing plastic and oral and maxillofacial surgical procedures before and during the pandemic, and surgical volumes did not recover at the same rate for all patients. Further research can determine why certain sociodemographic groups and patients with low COI levels had decreased surgical access compared with prepandemic trends, and develop interventions focused on equitable pediatric surgical access.

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