Impact of COVID-19 on access to and delivery of sexual and reproductive healthcare services in countries with universal healthcare systems: A systematic review


OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unforeseen impacts on sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services worldwide, and the nature and prevalence of these changes have not been extensively synthesized. We sought to synthesise reported outcomes on the impact of COVID-19 on SRH access and delivery in comparable countries with universal healthcare systems. METHODS: Following PRISMA guidelines, we searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, and CINAHL from January 1st, 2020 to June 6th, 2023. Original research was eligible for inclusion if the study reported on COVID-19 and SRH access and/or delivery. Twenty-eight OECD countries with comparable economies and universal healthcare systems were included. We extracted study characteristics, participant characteristics, study design, and outcome variables. The methodological quality of each article was assessed using the Quality Assessment with Diverse Studies (QuADS) tool. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed for reporting the results. This study was registered on PROSPERO (#CRD42021245596). SYNTHESIS: Eighty-two studies met inclusion criteria. Findings were qualitatively synthesised into the domains of: antepartum care, intrapartum care, postpartum care, assisted reproductive technologies, abortion access, gynaecological care, sexual health services, and HIV care. Research was concentrated in relatively few countries. Access and delivery were negatively impacted by a variety of factors, including service disruptions, unclear communication regarding policy decisions, decreased timeliness of care, and fear of COVID-19 exposure. Across outpatient services, providers favoured models of care that avoided in-person appointments. Hospitals prioritized models of care that reduced time and number of people in hospital and aerosol-generating environments. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, studies demonstrated reduced access and delivery across most domains of SRH services during COVID-19. Variations in service restrictions and accommodations were heterogeneous within countries and between institutions. Future work should examine long-term impacts of COVID-19, underserved populations, and underrepresented countries


Tam MW, Davis VH, Ahluwalia M, Lee RS, Ross LE




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Linkage/engagement in care
    • Retention in care
  • Co-infections
    • Other
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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