If anyone has a sense of how socioeconomic status (SES) affects the health of patients, it is Urjeet A. Patel, MD. His head and neck surgery practice is divided between two centers that represent patients from quite different walks of life: Northwestern University Hospital and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, both in Chicago. The former is a prestigious university medical center that attracts people from around the globe, whereas the latter is a well-known public hospital that serves as a safety-net facility for uninsured or underinsured patients.
Explore this issue:June 2008
Seeing patients in different hospital systems gives me good perspective on some of the socioeconomics that affect our patients at Cook County, Dr. Patel told ENT Today. Dr. Patel, Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and Chair of Otolaryngology at Cook County Hospital, is involved in a number of studies looking at patient compliance and health as they relate to socioeconomic issues.
In one study, recently published in Laryngoscope, Dr. Patel and colleagues looked at compliance to radiation therapy in head and neck cancer patients at the Cook County hospital. The study population consisted largely of people who were unemployed, minorities, and presented late with disease. The study found that only 10% of the patients complied fully with radiation treatments, with the remainder missing half or more treatments. However, SES factors such as ethnicity, sex, and primary tumor status did not predict who would be compliant.