November 18, 2021

Disparities in the Nationwide Distribution of Epilepsy Centers

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Background: Prior studies in the field of epilepsy surgical disparities have examined barriers in undergoing epilepsy surgical resections in disadvantaged populations involving trust in health providers, education level, social support, and fear of treatment. Few studies have analyzed the geographical locations of specialized epilepsy centers and their role in nationwide epilepsy surgical access and disparities.

Objective: To better visualize the locations of epilepsy level IV centers in the United States with respect to epilepsy prevalence and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Methods: We created heat maps of the United States to visualize geographical locations of level IV epilepsy centers with respect to the 2015 state-wide epilepsy prevalence and 2017 county-wide Area Deprivation Index (ADI) scores, a composite measure of socioeconomic disadvantage. Univariate logistic regression was used to test for associations between the presence or absence of epilepsy centers and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Results: We found eight states within the United States without any level IV epilepsy centers. In states with level IV centers, centers were clustered in populated and metropolitan regions. Disadvantaged counties (with increased ADI scores) were less likely to have level IV centers compared to counties that were less disadvantaged (lower ADI scores) (p < 0.00001).

Conclusion: Further work is required to remedy the decreased access to specialized epilepsy care due to geographical disparities, and to better understand its contribution to overall disparities affecting epilepsy surgery referrals.

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