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(Abst. 2.375), 2015

Socioeconomic Characteristics of Patients in the Alabama Study of Cannabidiol (CBD) Use to Treat Epilepsy
Authors: B. Hansen, M. Szaflarski, M. Bebin, J. Szaflarski
Content: Rationale: Socioeconomic status (SES) and race/ethnicity play a role in the treatment and outcomes of patients with epilepsy, as demonstrated by the Social Determinants of Health-Epilepsy Model. Some US states have legalized the use of cannabis products to treat various health conditions including epilepsy, but little is known about the demographic and SES makeup of these patient populations. The aim of this study is to examine the demographic and SES characteristics of patients in the Alabama cannabidiol (CBD) oil epilepsy treatment study.Methods: Comprehensive social data (e.g., race/ethnicity, income, education/parental education, financial strains, and insurance) are collected from adult and pediatric participants in the CBD oil epilepsy treatment study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children’s of Alabama medical centers since 4/1/15, using standardized instruments (adult/pediatric) during face-to-face interviews lasting approximately 30 minutes. For participants unable to answer for themselves, the data are collected from the primary caregiver using alternative versions of the interview schedule. The data are entered manually and analyzed using SPSS v.22. For this analysis, frequency/percentage distributions and cross-tabulations were computed to construct the social profile of this population.Results: As of 6/4/15, baseline data were available for 23 participants: majority pediatric (52.2%) and female (65.2%), and all non-Hispanic/Latino white. Age ranged 3-62 years (pediatric 3-17, 41.2% <10 years old; adult 19-62, 54.5% ≥25 years old). Of the valid cases for SES variables (n=21), over 70% reported having an annual family income of ≥$50,000-59,999; 28.6% reported ≥$100,000-109,999. A total of 72.7% of adults reported their educational attainment as “special education till 21 program”; 1 had some college (no degree) and 1 completed a 2-year degree. Most parents/guardians of the pediatric participants (valid n=12) reported some college or college degrees. A total of 9% of the sample described their money situation as “cannot make ends meet” and reported food scarcity; others described their money situation as “enough but no extra” (34.8%) or “comfortable with extra” (47.8%) and reported no food scarcity. One participant reported problems with covering the cost of epilepsy medications. The majority (65.2%) were covered by private health insurance; 26.1% had Medicaid or state children’s health insurance program.Conclusions: Recipients of the Alabama CBD oil epilepsy treatment are racially/ethnically monolithic (white) and typically of higher income groups. This is in contrast with the relatively low-income, high-proportion African American/Black population of this region and the documented African American/Black disadvantage in epilepsy and epilepsy care. Information gained from this study will help to guide strategies aiming to monitor and eliminate health disparities in epilepsy, epilepsy care, and epilepsy clinical trials.