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Public Insurance and Single-Guardian Households Are Associated with Diagnostic Delay in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis.

BACKGROUND: Extensive literature documents the adverse sequelae of delayed diagnosis of slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE), including worsening deformity and surgical complications. Less is known about predictors of delayed diagnosis of SCFE, particularly the effects of social determinants of health. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of insurance type, family structure, and neighborhood-level socioeconomic vulnerability on the delay of SCFE diagnosis.

METHODS: We reviewed medical records of patients who underwent surgical fixation for stable SCFE at a tertiary pediatric hospital from 2002 to 2021. We abstracted data on demographic characteristics, insurance status, family structure, home address, and symptom duration. We measured diagnostic delay in weeks from the date of symptom onset to diagnosis. We then geocoded patient addresses to determine their Census tract-level U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), using U.S. Census and American Community Survey data. We performed 3 separate logistic regression models to examine the effects of (1) insurance status, (2) family structure, and (3) SVI on a delay of ≥12 weeks (reference, <12 weeks). We adjusted for age, sex, weight status, number of siblings, and calendar year.

RESULTS: We identified 351 patients with SCFE; 37% (129) had a diagnostic delay of ≥12 weeks. In multivariable logistic regression models, patients with public insurance were more likely to have a delay of ≥12 weeks than patients with private insurance (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.83 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12 to 2.97]; p = 0.015) and patients from single-guardian households were more likely to have a delay of ≥12 weeks than patients from multiguardian households (adjusted OR, 1.95 [95% CI, 1.11 to 3.45]; p = 0.021). We did not observe a significant increase in the odds of delay among patients in the highest quartile of overall SVI compared with patients from the lower 3 quartiles, in both the U.S. comparison (adjusted OR, 1.43 [95% CI, 0.79 to 2.58]; p = 0.24) and the Massachusetts comparison (adjusted OR, 1.45 [95% CI, 0.79 to 2.66]; p = 0.23).

CONCLUSIONS: The delay in diagnosis of SCFE remains a concern, with 37% of patients with SCFE presenting with delay of ≥12 weeks. Public insurance and single-guardian households emerged as independent risk factors for diagnostic delay. Interventions to reduce delay may consider focusing on publicly insured patients and those from single-guardian households.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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