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Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Functional Outcomes After Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

BACKGROUND: This review aimed to quantify the impact of socioeconomic status on functional outcomes from stroke and identify the socioeconomic status indicators that exhibit the highest magnitude of association.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We performed a systematic literature search across Medline and Embase from inception to May 2022, to identify observational studies (n≥100, and in English). Risk of bias was assessed using the modified Newcastle Ottawa Scale. Random effects meta-analysis was used to pool data. We included 19 studies (157 715 patients, 47.7% women) reporting functional outcomes measured with modified Rankin Scale or Barthel index, with 10 assessed as low risk of bias. Measures of socioeconomic status reported were education (11 studies), income (8), occupation (4), health insurance status (3), and neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation (3). Pooled data suggested that low socioeconomic status was significantly associated with poor functional outcomes, including incomplete education or below high school level versus high school attainment and above (odds ratio [OR], 1.66 [95% CI, 1.40-1.95]), lowest income versus highest income (OR, 1.36 [95% CI, 1.02-1.83]), a manual job/being unemployed versus a nonmanual job/working (OR, 1.62 [95% CI, 1.29-2.02]), and living in the most disadvantaged socioeconomic neighborhood versus the least disadvantaged (OR, 1.55 [95% CI, 1.25-1.92]). Low health insurance status was also associated with an increased risk of poor functional outcomes (OR, 1.32 [95% CI, 0.95-1.84]), although this was association was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite great strides in stroke treatment in the past decades, social disadvantage remains a risk factor for poor functional outcome after an acute stroke. Further research is needed to better understand causal mechanisms and disparities.

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