The ATHENA COVID-19 Study: Cohort profile and first findings for people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Queensland, 1 January to 31 December 2020

Jennifer Welsh*, Rosemary Korda, Ellie Paige, Mark Morgan, Hsei-Di Law, Tony Stanton, Zolton Bourne, Ximena Tolosa, Kim Greaves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Background To date, there are limited Australian data on characteristics of people diagnosed with COVID-19 and on how these characteristics relate to outcomes. The ATHENA COVID-19 Study was established to describe health outcomes and investigate predictors of outcomes for all people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Queensland by linking COVID-19 notification, hospital, general practice and death registry data. This paper reports on the establishment and first findings for the ATHENA COVID-19 Study.
Methods Part 1 of the ATHENA COVID-19 Study used Notifiable Conditions System data from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020, linked to: Emergency Department Collection data for the same period; Queensland Health Admitted Patient Data Collections (from 1 January 2010 to 30 January 2021); and Deaths Registrations data (from 1 January 2020 to 17 January 2021). 
Results To 31 December 2020, a total of 1,254 people had been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection in Queensland: half were female (49.8%); two-thirds (67.7%) were aged 20–59 years; and there was an over-representation of people living in less-disadvantaged areas. More than half of people diagnosed (57.6%) presented to an emergency department (ED); 21.2% were admitted to hospital as an inpatient (median length of stay 11 days); 1.4% were admitted to an intensive care unit (82.4% of these required ventilation); and there were six deaths. Analysis of factors associated with these outcomes was limited due to small case numbers: people living in less-disadvantaged areas had a lower risk of being admitted to hospital (test for trend, p < 0.001), while those living in more remote areas were less likely than people living in major cities to present to an ED (test for trend: p=0.007), which may reflect differential health care access rather than health outcomes per se. Increasing age (test for trend, p < 0.001) and being a current/recent smoker (age-sex-adjusted relative risk: 1.61; 95%confidence interval: 1.00, 2.61) were associated with a higher risk of being admitted to hospital. 
Conclusion Despite uncertainty in our estimates due to small numbers, our findings are consistent with what is known about COVID-19. Our findings reinforce the value of linking multiple data sources to enhance reporting of outcomes for people diagnosed with COVID-19 and provide a platform for longer term follow-up.
Original languageEnglish
Journal Communicable Diseases Intelligence
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


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