Association of Socioeconomic Status With Outcomes and Care Quality in Patients Presenting With Undifferentiated Chest Pain in the Setting of Universal Health Care Coverage

Luke P. Dawson, Emily Andrew, Ziad Nehme, Jason Bloom, Sinjini Biswas, Shelley Cox, David Anderson, Michael Stephenson, Jeffrey Lefkovits, Andrew J. Taylor, David Kaye, Karen Smith, Dion Stub

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BACKGROUND This study aimed to assess whether there are disparities in incidence rates, care, and outcomes for patients with chest pain attended by emergency medical services according to socioeconomic status (SES) in a universal health coverage setting. METHODS AND RESULTS This was a population-based cohort study of individually linked ambulance, emergency, hospital admission, and mortality data in the state of Victoria, Australia, from January 2015 to June 2019 that included 183 232 consecutive emergency medical services attendances for adults with nontraumatic chest pain (mean age 62 [SD 18] years; 51% women) and excluded out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction. Age-standardized incidence of chest pain was higher for patients residing in lower SES areas (lowest SES quintile 1595 versus highest SES quintile 760 per 100 000 person-years; P<0.001). Patients of lower SES were less likely to attend metropolitan, private, or revascularization-capable hospitals and had greater comorbidities. In multivariable models adjusted for clinical characteristics and final diagnosis, lower SES quintiles were associated with increased risks of 30-day and long-term mortality, readmission for chest pain and acute coronary syndrome, lower acuity emergency department triage categorization, emergency department length of stay >4 hours, and emergency department or emergency medical services discharge without hospital admission and were inversely associated with use of prehospital ECGs and transfer to a revascularization-capable hospital for patients presenting to non-percutaneous coronary intervention centers. CONCLUSIONS In this study, lower SES was associated with a higher incidence of chest pain presentations to emergency medical services and differences in care and outcomes. These findings suggest that substantial disparities for socioeconomically disadvantaged chest pain cohorts exist, even in the setting of universal health care access.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere024923
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2022


  • chest pain
  • disparities in care
  • emergency medical services
  • outcomes
  • quality of care
  • socioeconomic status

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