Low socioeconomic status is a determinant of pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) incidence and severity. In this study, the authors used National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample (NIS) data to evaluate socioeconomic and health disparities among children hospitalized after TBI.
This retrospective study identified pediatric patients aged 0 to 19 years with ICD-9 codes for TBI in the NIS database from 2012 to 2015. Socioeconomic variables included race, sex, age, census region, and median income of the patient residential zip code. Outcomes included mechanism of injury, hospital length of stay (LOS), cost, disposition at discharge, death, and inpatient complications. Multivariate linear regressions in log scale were built for LOS and cost. Logistic regressions were built for death, disposition, and inpatient complications.
African American, Hispanic, and Native American patients experienced longer LOSs (β 0.06, p < 0.001; β 0.03, p = 0.03; β 0.13, p = 0.02, respectively) and increased inpatient costs (β 0.13, p < 0.001; β 0.09, p < 0.001; β 0.14, p = 0.03, respectively). Females showed increased rates of medical complications (OR 1.57, p < 0.001), LOS (β 0.025, p = 0.02), and inpatient costs (p = 0.04). Children aged 15 to 19 years were less likely to be discharged home (OR 3.99, p < 0.001), had increased mortality (OR 1.32, p = 0.03) and medical complications (OR 1.84, p < 0.001), and generated increased costs (p < 0.001).
The study results have demonstrated that racial minorities, females, older children, and children in lower socioeconomic groups were at increased risk of poor outcomes following TBI, including increased LOS, medical complications, mortality, inpatient costs, and worse hospital disposition. Public education and targeted funding for these groups will ensure that all children have equal opportunity for optimal clinical outcomes following TBI.