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Rural and urban disparities in the care of Canadian patients with inflammatory bowel disease: a population-based study

Authors Benchimol EI, Kuenzig ME, Bernstein CN, Nguyen GC, Guttmann A, Jones JL, Potter BK, Targownik LE, Catley CA, Nugent ZJ, Tanyingoh D, Mojaverian N, Underwood FE, Siddiq S, Otley AR, Bitton A, Carroll MW, deBruyn JC, Dummer TJB, El-Matary W, Griffiths AM, Jacobson K, Leddin D, Lix LM, Mack DR, Murthy SK, Peña-Sánchez JN, Singh H, Kaplan GG

Received 23 June 2018

Accepted for publication 14 September 2018

Published 8 November 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 1613—1626

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S178056

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Vera Ehrenstein


Eric I Benchimol,1–5 M Ellen Kuenzig,1,2,5 Charles N Bernstein,6,7 Geoffrey C Nguyen,5,8 Astrid Guttmann,5,9 Jennifer L Jones,10 Beth K Potter,4 Laura E Targownik,6,7 Christina A Catley,5 Zoann J Nugent,6,11 Divine Tanyingoh,12,13 Nassim Mojaverian,5 Fox E Underwood,12,13 Shabnaz Siddiq,1,2 Anthony R Otley,14 Alain Bitton,15 Matthew W Carroll,16 Jennifer C deBruyn,17 Trevor JB Dummer,18 Wael El-Matary,19 Anne M Griffiths,9 Kevan Jacobson,20,21 Desmond Leddin,10 Lisa M Lix,22 David R Mack,1–3 Sanjay K Murthy,4,23 Juan Nicolás Peña-Sánchez,24 Harminder Singh,6,7 Gilaad G Kaplan12,13

On behalf of the Canadian Gastro-Intestinal Epidemiology Consortium

1Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario IBD Centre, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Canada; 2Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada; 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; 4School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; 5ICES, Toronto, Canada; 6University of Manitoba IBD Clinical and Research Centre, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; 7Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; 8Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital Centre for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; 9Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; 10Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada; 11CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; 12Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 13Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 14Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada; 15Division of Gastroenterology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada; 16Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada; 17Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada; 18School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada; 19Department of Pediatrics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; 20Department of Pediatrics, The University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada; 21Child and Family Research Institute, The University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada; 22Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada; 23The Ottawa Hospital IBD Centre, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 24Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Background and aims: Canada’s large geographic area and low population density pose challenges in access to specialized health care for remote and rural residents. We compared health services use, surgical rate, and specialist gastroenterologist care in rural and urban inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients in Canada.
Methods: We used validated algorithms that were applied to population-based health administrative data to identify all people living with the following three Canadian provinces: Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario (ON). We compared rural residents with urban residents for time to diagnosis, hospitalizations, outpatient visits, emergency department (ED) use, surgical rate, and gastroenterologist care. Multivariable regression compared the outcomes in rural/urban patients, controlling for confounders. Provincial results were meta-analyzed using random-effects models to produce overall estimates.
Results: A total of 36,656 urban and 5,223 rural residents with incident IBD were included. Outpatient physician visit rate was similar in rural and urban patients. IBD-specific and IBD-related hospitalization rates were higher in rural patients (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.17, 95% CI 1.02–1.34, and IRR 1.27, 95% CI 1.04–1.56, respectively). The rate of ED visits in ON were similarly elevated for rural patients (IRR 1.53, 95% CI 1.42–1.65, and IRR 1.33, 95% CI 1.25–1.40). There were no differences in surgical rates or prediagnosis lag time between rural and urban patients. Rural patients had fewer IBD-specific gastroenterologist visits (IRR 0.79, 95% CI 0.73–0.84) and a smaller proportion of their IBD-specific care was provided by gastroenterologists (28.3% vs 55.2%, P<0.0001). This was less pronounced in children <10 years at diagnosis (59.3% vs 65.0%, P<0.0001), and the gap was widest in patients >65 years (33.0% vs 59.2%, P<0.0001).
Conclusion: There were lower rates of gastroenterologist physician visits , more hospitalizations, and greater rates of ED visits in rural IBD patients. These disparities in health services use result in costlier care for rural patients. Innovative methods of delivering gastroenterology care to rural IBD patients (such as telehealth, online support, and remote clinics) should be explored, especially for communities lacking easy access to gastroenterologists.

Keywords: inflammatory bowel disease, epidemiology, health services research, access to care, health administrative data, routinely collected health data

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