Socioeconomic factors affect treatment delivery for patients with low grade glioma: a Swedish population-based study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Neuro-Oncology. 2019, 146 (2), 329-337. 10.1007/s11060-019-03378-7
Background Despite aspirations to achieve equality in healthcare we know that socioeconomic differences exist and may affect treatment and patient outcome, also in serious diseases such as cancer. We investigated disparities in neurosurgical care and outcome for patients with low-grade glioma (LGG). Methods In this nationwide registry-based study, patients who had undergone surgery for LGG during 2005–2015 were identified (n = 547) through the Swedish Brain Tumor Registry. We linked data to multiple national registries with individual level data on income, education and comorbidity and analyzed the association of disease characteristics, surgical management and outcome, with levels of income, education and sex. Results Patients with either low income, low education or female gender showed worse pre-operative performance status. Patients with low income or education also had more comorbidities and those with low education endured longer waiting times for surgery. Median time from radiological imaging to surgery was 51 days (Q1–3 27–191) for patients with low education, compared to 32 days (Q1–3 20–80) for patients with high education (p = 0.006). Differences in waiting time over educational levels remained significant after stratification for age, comorbidity, preoperative performance status, and tumor size. Overall survival was better for patients with high income or high education, but income- and education-related survival differences were not significant after adjustment for age and comorbidity. The type of surgical procedure or complications did not differ over socioeconomic groups or sex.Conclusion The neurosurgical care for LGG in Sweden, a society with universal healthcare, displays differences that can be related to socioeconomic factors.