A nationwide study of patients operated for cervical degenerative disorders in public and private hospitals
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScientific Reports. 2022, 12 (1), 1-8. 10.1038/s41598-022-17194-z
During the last decades, there has been an increase in the rate of surgery for degenerative disorders of the cervical spine and in the use of supplementary private health insurance. Still, there is limited knowledge about the diferences in characteristics of patients operated in public and private hospitals. Therefore, we aimed at comparing sociodemographic-, clinical- and patient management data on patients operated for degenerative cervical radiculopathy and degenerative cervical myelopathy in public and private hospitals in Norway. This was a cross-sectional study on patients in the Norwegian Registry for Spine Surgery operated for degenerative cervical radiculopathy and degenerative cervical myelopathy between January 2012 and December 2020. At admission for surgery, we assessed disability by the following patient reported outcome measures (PROMs): neck disability index (NDI), EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) and numerical rating scales for neck pain (NRS-NP) and arm pain (NRS-AP). Among 9161 patients, 7344 (80.2%) procedures were performed in public hospitals and 1817 (19.8%) in private hospitals. Mean age was 52.1 years in public hospitals and 49.7 years in private hospitals (P< 0.001). More women were operated in public hospitals (47.9%) than in private hospitals (31.6%) (P< 0.001). A larger proportion of patients in private hospitals had high education (≥4 years of college or university) (42.9% vs 35.6%, P< 0.001). Patients in public hospitals had worse disease-specifc health problems than those in private hospitals: unadjusted NDI mean diference was 5.2 (95% CI 4.4 – 6.0; P< 0.001) and adjusted NDI mean diference was 3.4 (95% CI 2.5 – 4.2; P< 0.001), and they also had longer duration of symptoms (P< 0.001). Duration of surgery (mean diference 29 minutes, 95% CI 27.1 – 30.7; P< 0.001) and length of hospital stay (mean diference 2 days, 95% CI 2.3 – 2.4; P< 0.001) were longer in public hospitals. In conclusion, patients operated for degenerative cervical spine in private hospitals were healthier, younger, better educated and more often men. They also had less and shorter duration of symptoms and seemed to be managed more efciently. Our fndings indicate that access to cervical spine surgery in private hospitals could be skewed in favour of patients with higher socioeconomic status.