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2013 Research Abstract

The effects of socioeconomic status and race on pediatric neurosurgical shunting

Investigator: Corey Walker

Mentor: Howard Silberstein, MD

Purpose: It is established in the literature that disparities exist in the quality of healthcare for patients from disadvantaged backgrounds and lower socioeconomic status. There may be roadblocks within the field of neurosurgery preventing equal access and quality of care. Our goal was to study the similarities between pediatric patients with shunted hydrocephalus of different insurance types and race.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on all pediatric patients who underwent ventriculoperitoneal shunting from 1990–2010 at our institution. Race and insurance type were recorded and assessed against specific outcome measures to statistically compare complication rates.

Results: A complete record was found for 373 patients who received 849 shunting procedures at our institution. No differences were found between racial groups and insurance type for overall shunt survival, total revision number, or average time to failure. However, nonwhite patients spent an average of 3 days longer in the hospital at initial shunting (p=0.04), and those with public insurance stayed for 5 days longer (p=0.002). Patients with public insurance were more likely to present with shunt failure from outside hospitals (p=0.005) and be born prematurely (p<0.001). Private patients were more likely to have a neoplasm present at time of initial shunt placement (p=0.003).

Conclusion: While overall revision rate was not affected by race or insurance status, there were significant delays in discharge for patients with public insurance. Moreover, potential disparities in outpatient access to primary physicians and specialists may be affecting care.

Last Updated: 4/18/14

Updated on April 18, 2014.