January 20, 2021

Cross-National Disparities Contribute to Heterogeneity in Patient Outcomes Following Invasive Monitoring

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsia

There is substantial variability in outcomes following invasive monitoring and surgical treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE). Patients with DRE are uniquely vulnerable to cross-national health care disparities, as their epilepsy is difficult to treat and requires extensive resources. In a large cross-national database of patients undergoing invasive monitoring for epilepsy surgery, we sought to evaluate the association between social, economic, and educational indicators of the country of treatment and patient outcomes following invasive monitoring.

We performed a mixed-effects analysis of an individual patient database of 595 subjects enrolled in 33 studies encompassing 25 neurosurgical centers in 10 countries of invasive monitoring for epilepsy from 1996 to 2019. Upon preliminary univariate analysis, significant nation-level predictors of seizure outcome following either stereoelectroencephalography or subdural electrodes were hospital beds per 100,000 population, physician density, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, male and female educational attainment, and unemployment rate. On multivariate mixed-effects logistic regression, physician density (? = -0.5112, P<.00697) and GDP growth (? = 0.53822, P<.00404) were the only nation-level covariates of significance associated with seizure outcome.

A higher physician density was associated with lesser seizure freedom rates, whereas higher GDP growth was associated with greater seizure freedom rates. Although patient-specific variables were the primary determinant of seizure outcomes, cross-national disparities also contribute to heterogeneities. Our findings highlight the importance of a systems-level dialogue to improve surgical outcomes for DRE patients.

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