Socioeconomic inequality in stroke care occurs even in countries with free access to health care. We aimed to investigate the association between socioeconomic status and guideline-recommended acute care in Denmark during the last decade.
We conducted a nationwide, population-based study. We used household income, employment status, and education as markers of socioeconomic status and adjusted the results for relevant clinical covariates. We used weighted linear regression models to analyse empirical log odds of performance measure fulfillment at patient level.
Public hospitals in Denmark.
A total of 110,848 consecutive stroke patients discharged between 2004 and 2014.
Acute stroke care according to clinical guidelines.
Main outcome measure(s):
Guideline-recommended care was defined in two ways based on clinical performance measures: the percentage of fulfilled measures used throughout the study period (m=8) (model 1) and the percentage of fulfilled measures used at the time of discharge (m=8 to 16) (model 2).
Compared with high family income, low income was negatively associated with the guideline-recommended care; odds ratios (95% CI) were 0.89 (0.85–0.93) in model 1 and 0.81 (0.77–0.85) in model 2. Low family income was negatively associated with fulfillment of 14 of the 16 performance measures. In general, the percentage of performance measures fulfilled increased over time from 70% (95% CI 63–76) to 85% (95% CI 83–87).
Socioeconomic inequality in guideline-recommended stroke care remains despite overall improvements in a setting with free access to care and systematic monitoring of health care quality.