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Worse Outcomes in Patients With Low Socioeconomic Status

Low socioeconomic status patients with epilepsy have more ER visits despite regular care

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with epilepsy who receive regular care, those with a low socioeconomic status (SES) make greater use of health care facilities but have worse outcomes than their higher SES peers, according to a study published online Feb. 14 in Epilepsia.

Charles Begley, Ph.D., of the University of Texas in Houston, and colleagues investigated the continuing disparities in health care use and outcomes in socioeconomically diverse epilepsy patients. Patients from three clinics serving a predominantly low-SES population and one clinic serving a higher SES population were followed for one year. Patients were interviewed regarding their use of the health care system, seizures, side effects, and outcomes. The differences between low- and high-SES patients were evaluated.

The researchers found that low-SES patients made greater use of the hospital emergency room, visited a general practitioner more often, and had consistently more hospitalizations, although the latter did not reach statistical significance in most time periods. The number of visits to a neurologist was not significantly different. Low-SES patients had overall worse outcomes over the year, reporting a greater likelihood of having uncontrolled seizures, experiencing drug-related side effects, being stigmatized, and having a lower overall quality of life.

"Disparities in patterns of care and outcomes of low- and high-SES patients receiving regular epilepsy-related care were found to be significant and persistent over one year," the authors write. "Consequently, the study raises questions about the value of having a regular source of care in eliminating or reducing disparities."

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