Inequalities in emergency care use across transition from paediatric to adult care: a retrospective cohort study of young people with chronic kidney disease in England

Eur J Pediatr. 2024 Apr 26. doi: 10.1007/s00431-024-05561-z. Online ahead of print.


Transition of young people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) from paediatric to adult healthcare has been associated with poor outcomes, but few population-level studies examine trends in subgroups. We aimed to assess sociodemographic inequalities in changes in unplanned secondary care utilisation occurring across transfer to adult care for people with CKD in England. A cohort was constructed from routine healthcare administrative data in England of young people with childhood-diagnosed CKD who transitioned to adult care. The primary outcome was the number of emergency inpatient admissions and accident and emergency department (A&E) attendances per person year, compared before and after transfer. Injury-related and maternity admissions were excluded. Outcomes were compared via sociodemographic data using negative binomial regression with random effects. The cohort included 4505 individuals. Controlling for age, birth year, age at transfer, region and sociodemographic factors, transfer was associated with a significant decrease in emergency admissions (IRR 0.75, 95% CI 0.64-0.88) and no significant change in A&E attendances (IRR 1.10, 95% CI 0.95-1.27). Female sex was associated with static admissions and increased A&E attendances with transfer, with higher admissions and A&E attendances compared to males pre-transfer. Non-white ethnicities and higher deprivation were associated with higher unplanned secondary care use.

Conclusion: Sociodemographic inequalities in emergency secondary care usage were evident in this cohort across the transition period, independent of age, with some variation between admissions and A&E use, and evidence of effect modification by transfer. Such inequalities likely have multifactorial origin, but importantly, could represent differential meetings of care needs.

What is known: • In chronic kidney disease (CKD), transfer from paediatric to adult healthcare is associated with declining health outcomes. • Known differences in CKD outcomes by sociodemographic factors have limited prior exploration in the context of transfer.

What is new: • Population-level data was used to examine the impacts of transfer and sociodemographic factors on unplanned secondary care utilisation in CKD. • Healthcare utilisation trends may not reflect known CKD pathophysiology and there may be unexplored sociodemographic inequalities in the experiences of young people across transfer.

Keywords: Chronic kidney disease; Health inequalities; Population study; Transition.