May 5, 2020

Poverty, Insurance, and Region as Predictors of Epilepsy Treatment Among US Adults

Disparities in epilepsy treatment have previously been reported. In the current study, researchers examine the role of socioeconomic status, health insurance, place of residence, and sociodemographic characteristics in past-year visit to a neurology or epilepsy provider and current use of antiseizure medications.

Multiple years of data were compiled from the National Health Interview Surveys, Sample Adult Epilepsy Modules. The sample (n = 1655) included individuals 18 years and older who have been told by a doctor to have epilepsy or seizures. Independent variables included number of seizures in the past year, health insurance, poverty status, education, region, race/ethnicity, foreign-born status, age, and sex/gender.

Accounting for recent seizure activity and other factors, uninsured and people residing outside of the Northeast were less likely to see an epilepsy provider, and people living in poverty were less likely to use medications, relative to their comparison groups. However, no racial/ethnic and nativity-based differences in specialty service or medication use were observed.

Further research, including longitudinal studies of care trajectories and outcomes, are warranted to better understand healthcare needs of people with epilepsy, in particular treatment-resistant seizures, and to develop appropriate interventions at the policy, public health, and health system levels.

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