Good quality healthcare requires an understanding of how the factors that shape peoples’ identities impact their healthcare and their interactions with healthcare professionals. The current project aims to study the impact of socioeconomic, educational and demographic characteristics on health interaction and clinical decisions of people with MS. Several authors have argued that clinical decisions are influenced by factors such as patients’ socioeconomic status, age or gender , but evidence to substantiate
such claims is scarce and largely based on simulated scenarios, not real patient records. Such understanding is especially relevant within MS which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Due to the non-specific nature of early onsets and symptoms there is a potential for increased risk of problems associated with late diagnosis or inadequate treatment.
This project will make use of the vibrant world-leading research environment of the data sciences and health informatics at Swansea University Medical School. It will use rich self-reported and clinical datasets in the MS Register , along with SAIL ’ s worldleading databank of de-identified individual healthcare records to address this gap. The study will focus on the following questions:
- Do patients’ socioeconomic, educational and demographic factors impact decision-making (diagnosis, referral and treatment) and healthcare journeys of people with MS? If so how?
- Is it possible to identify strategies that can be used to improve the care provided to people living with MS? Can that information be used to help doctors, other healthcare professionals and individuals to make better decisions?
The study will adopt a mixed-methods (embedded) study design with a quantitative focus.