Preschool children from lower household incomes experience inequality in asthma treatment: findings from a Danish nationwide cohort study

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The obligation to pay for asthma medication in a country with universal healthcare might lead to increased asthma exacerbations and inequitable healthcare access for children from low-income households. Thus, the aim of this study was to examine the association between household income and childhood/preschool asthma regarding hospitalization and medication receipt.

METHODS: In this nationwide register-based cohort study, we encompassed all 3-year-old children residing in Denmark, born between 2000 and 2014, along with their linked parents and followed them until their sixth birthday. Household income was divided into quartiles. Asthma was categorized in two mutually exclusive groups as either the redemption of two prescriptions for asthma medication or receiving a hospital diagnosis. We utilized Poisson regression to estimate the risk ratio (RR).

RESULTS: The analysis included 834 422 preschool children. The prevalence of asthma dependent on medication alone was 7.3%, while 1.8% of children necessitated asthma-related hospitalization. Income inequality was evident across all income quartiles. Notably, children from the lowest income quartile had a RR of 0.95 (95% CI: 0.92-0.98) of redeeming asthma medication and conversely a RR of 1.18 (95% CI: 1.14-1.23) of asthma-related hospitalization.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite universal healthcare, income inequality has a dual impact on children from low-income households. They face a diminished risk of redeeming asthma medication and a higher susceptibility to asthma-related hospitalizations indicating an unequal access to healthcare. Prioritizing efforts to reduce childhood health inequalities is crucial. However, further research, particularly qualitative studies, is needed to better comprehend the underlying mechanisms to address the complexities of income inequality.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummerckad187
TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Public Health
Vol/bind34
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)85-90
Antal sider6
ISSN1101-1262
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 5 feb. 2024

Bibliografisk note

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.

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