Children’s access to and ability to benefit from paediatric epilepsy surgery could be affected by their socioeconomic status, according to a new study.
Conducted by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, the aim of the research was to evaluate the influence of socioeconomic status on time to surgery and surgical outcomes in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy in Canada, which has a universal healthcare system comparable to the UK’s NHS.
The cohort consisted of 284 children who had undergone resective epilepsy surgery between 2001 and 2013, with patients’ postcodes linked to Statistics Canada National Household Survey data to obtain information about the average income levels in their areas.
Time to surgery was defined as the interval from date of epilepsy onset to date of surgery, with the researchers studying the associations between this interval and patients’ socioeconomic status, as well as seeing how financial backgrounds tended to affect surgical outcomes.
According to results published in the medical journal Epilepsy & Behavior, patients in the lowest income bracket had a significantly higher time to surgery relative to the highest income group.
Although there were no significant associations between income levels and seizure-free surgical outcomes, patients in the lowest income group were shown to be significantly less likely to experience an improvement in seizure frequency compared to those from richer backgrounds.
It was considered particularly noteworthy that the average time to surgery was not uniform across socioeconomic status groups despite of the existence of a universal healthcare system.
The study concluded: “This finding highlights the need to address social and economic barriers for epilepsy surgery to improve access to this potentially curative treatment. Those with lower socioeconomic status had lower likelihood of improvement in seizure control following epilepsy surgery and may require additional support, including social and financial support to mitigate the discrepancies in seizure control following surgery between socioeconomic status levels.”
Posted by Anne Brown
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