The influence of socioeconomic status on health resource utilization in pediatric epilepsy in a universal health insurance system

Klajdi Puka, Mary Lou Smith, Rahim Moineddin, O. Carter Snead, Elysa Widjaja*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Summary Objectives It is unknown if there is a disparity in health resource utilization (HRU) among children with epilepsy in a universal health insurance system. The aims of this study were to evaluate whether socioeconomic status (SES) influenced the pattern of HRU among children with epilepsy, and to determine if neurology visits were associated with emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Methods Health administrative databases were used to identify HRU among children with epilepsy in Ontario, Canada. The frequency of neurology visits, ED visits, and hospitalizations were assessed for 1 year. SES was measured using dissemination area income and deprivation index. The association between SES and HRU was evaluated, adjusting for age, sex, residence, and comorbidities. Subsequently, we assessed whether neurology visits influenced ED visits and hospitalizations, adjusting for age, sex, residence, comorbidities, and SES. Results Deprivation index was a more sensitive measure of disparity in HRU than dissemination area income. Status epilepticus-related ED visits and hospitalizations were most expensive but accounted for a small proportion of total costs. Higher deprivation was associated with fewer neurology visits (relative risk [RR] 0.85-0.89), more frequent ED visits (RR 1.08-1.36), and hospitalizations (RR 1.27). Increased neurology visits were associated with more frequent ED visits (RR 1.10) and hospitalizations (RR 1.15). The associations between neurology visits and ED visits as well as hospitalizations varied by deprivation index, in that neurology visits were associated with increased ED visits and hospitalizations and the increase was higher in the most deprived relative to the least deprived (all p < 0.0001). Significance We found disparity in HRU by SES despite the universal health insurance system. More frequent neurology visits were associated with more frequent ED visits and hospitalizations after adjusting for SES, probably related to epilepsy severity. Our study identified an at-risk population for high resource use that may require additional support to reduce ED visits and hospitalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-463
Number of pages9
JournalEpilepsia
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Keywords

  • Children
  • Deprivation index
  • Dissemination area income
  • Population study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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