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Acute Liver FailureHealth Professionals Blog

Finance, race, ethnicity, and spoken language impact clinical outcomes for children with acute liver failure

Title: Finance, race, ethnicity, and spoken language impact clinical outcomes for children with acute liver failure

Source: Pediatric Transplantation 2024, 28 (1): e14686

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Date of publication: February 2024

Publication type: Retrospective cohort study

Abstract: Background: Pediatric acute liver failure (PALF) is an emergency, necessitating prompt referral and management at an experienced liver transplant center. Social determinants of health (SDOH) drive healthcare disparities and can affect many aspects of disease presentation, access to care, and ultimately clinical outcomes. Potential associations between SDOH and PALF outcomes, including spontaneous recovery (SR), liver transplant (LT) or death, are unknown. This study aims to investigate how SDOH may affect PALF and therefore identify areas for intervention to mitigate unrecognized disparities.

Methods: A retrospective, single-center cohort was analyzed and then compared and validated with data from the multicenter National Institutes of Health PALF Study Group. The single-center review included 145 patients admitted with PALF using diagnostic codes. Medical records were reviewed to extract patient demographics, family structure, inpatient social worker assessments, and clinical outcomes. Data were stratified by outcome.

Results: This analysis determined that level of family support (p = .02), caretaker employment (p = .02), patient age, race, and language (p = .01) may impact clinical outcomes. Specifically, the cohort of children that died had the largest proportion of non-English speaking patients with limited support systems and parents who worked full-time. Conversely, patients who underwent LT more often belonged to English-speaking families with a homemaker and extensive support systems.

Conclusion: This study suggests that SDOH impact PALF outcomes and highlights patient populations facing additional challenges during an already complex healthcare emergency. These associations may indicate unconscious biases held by transplant teams when evaluating waitlist candidacy, as well as barriers to healthcare access. Strategies to better understand the broader applicability of our findings and, if confirmed, efforts to mitigate social disparities, may improve clinical outcomes in PALF.

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