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Socioeconomic inequality in access to timely and appropriate care in emergency departments

Author

Listed:
  • Turner, Alex J
  • Francetic, Igor
  • Watkinson, Ruth
  • Gillibrand, Stephanie
  • Sutton, Matt

Abstract

In publicly-funded healthcare systems, waiting times for care should be based on need rather than ability to pay. Studies have shown that individuals with lower socioeconomic status face longer waits for planned inpatient care, but there is little evidence on inequalities in waiting times for emergency care. We study waiting times in emergency departments (EDs) following arrival by ambulance, where health consequences of extended waits may be severe. Using data from all major EDs in England during the 2016/17 financial year, we find patients from more deprived areas face longer waits during some parts of the ED care pathway. Inequalities in waits are small, but more deprived individuals also receive less complex ED care, are less likely to be admitted for inpatient care, and are more likely to re-attend ED or die shortly after attendance. Patient-physician interactions and unconscious bias towards more deprived patients may be important sources of inequalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Turner, Alex J & Francetic, Igor & Watkinson, Ruth & Gillibrand, Stephanie & Sutton, Matt, 2022. "Socioeconomic inequality in access to timely and appropriate care in emergency departments," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:85:y:2022:i:c:s0167629622000844
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2022.102668
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequalities; Socioeconomic status; Emergency departments; Waiting times; Patient outcomes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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