UCONN Emergency Medicine Interest Group

Posts Tagged ‘epidemiology’

Journal Article Synopsis: Chronic Illness and Socioeconomics

In JOURNAL CLUB on November 20, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Summary of  “The relationship between chronic illness, chronic pain, and socioeconomic factors in the ED” by Owen Hanley, James Miner, Erik Rockswold, Michelle Biros. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Volume 29, Issue 3, March 2011, pp. 286-292.

With chronic health problems becoming the main focus of health care efforts and dollars in the United States there have been increased efforts to identify patient populations who are at the greatest risk for these diseases. This cross-sectional study was aimed to determine the prevalence of chronic illness and pain in the emergency department in patients of varying demographic backgrounds. Previous studies have shown that a small number of “frequent flyers” represent a substantially larger proportion of total ED visits.  Furthermore, other studies have shown that socioeconomic status and ethnicity can play an important role in ascertaining ones risk for illness, as certain populations disproportionately use emergency medical services. To appropriately address the rise of chronic health problems it is important to characterize populations at risk that are presenting to the ED. This study sought to identify these characteristics of patients that present to the ED with higher rates of chronic illness and chronic pain and to identify social mechanisms that are related to the disproportionate disease occurrence.

The study concluded that having limited access to primary care correlated with a higher perceived incidence of chronic illness, followed by family income and housing status.  The quality of a person’s environment was found to contribute the largest  to a persons perceived chronic pain as those in poor housing status reported to be in the most discomfort.

These conditions being tremendous strains on Emergency Departments across the United States raise an interesting question: can improvementsto a patients living situation and access to medical care in lower socioeconomic levels alleviate the financial and physical burden on Emergency Departments across the country?

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