The association of patient education level with outcomes after elective lumbar surgery: a Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative study.
OBJECTIVE: Socioeconomic factors have been shown to impact a host of healthcare-related outcomes. Level of education is a marker of socioeconomic status. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between patient education level and outcomes after elective lumbar surgery and to characterize any education-related disparities.
METHODS: The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative registry was queried for all lumbar spine operations. Primary outcomes included patient satisfaction determined by the North American Spine Society patient satisfaction index, and reaching the minimum clinically important difference of Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Physical Function score and return to work up to 2 years after surgery. Multivariate Poisson generalized estimating equation models reported adjusted risk ratios.
RESULTS: A total of 26,229 lumbar spine patients had data available for inclusion in this study. On multivariate generalized estimating equation analysis all comparisons were done versus the high school (HS)/general equivalency development (GED)-level cohort. For North American Spine Society satisfaction scores after surgery the authors observed the following: at 90 days the likelihood of satisfaction significantly decreased by 11% (p < 0.001) among < HS, but increased by 1% (p = 0.52) among college-educated and 3% (p = 0.011) among postcollege-educated cohorts compared to the HS/GED cohort; at 1 year there was a decrease of 9% (p = 0.02) among < HS and increases of 3% (p = 0.02) among college-educated and 9% (p < 0.001) among postcollege-educated patients; and at 2 years, there was an increase of 5% (p = 0.001) among postcollege-educated patients compared to the < HS group. The likelihood of reaching a minimum clinically important difference of Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Physical Function score at 90 days increased by 5% (p = 0.005) among college-educated and 9% (p < 0.001) among postcollege-educated cohorts; at 1 year, all comparison cohorts demonstrated significance, with a decrease of 12% (p = 0.007) among < HS, but an increase by 6% (p < 0.001) among college-educated patients and 14% (p < 0.001) among postcollege-educated compared to the HS/GED cohort; at 2 years, there was a significant decrease by 19% (p = 0.003) among the < HS cohort, an increase by 8% (p = 0.001) among the college-educated group, and an increase by 16% (p < 0.001) among the postcollege-educated group. For return to work, a significant increase was demonstrated at 90 days and 1 year when comparing the HS or less group with college or postcollege cohorts.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated negative associations on all primary outcomes with lower levels of education. This finding suggests a potential disparity linked to education in elective spine surgery.