Reducing health inequalities in chronic conditions is a national and international policy goal. This study will help to refine our understanding of how any social inequalities related to cystic fibrosis (CF) are generated and should lead to recommendations for policymakers.
Cystic fibrosis offers an ideal case to study inequalities in outcomes and access to treatment in a chronic condition as socio-economic status does not affect CF disease risk but does affect the health and social outcomes of having CF.
There have been significant improvements in outcomes in cystic fibrosis, but all socio-economic groups have not benefitted equally. In order to design effective policies to reduce these inequalities, we need to know how, and at what stage of life, they are established.
Also, the social consequences of CF are poorly understood. Our research has shown that deteriorations in lung function and time in hospital are more damaging to employment chances in more disadvantaged populations with cystic fibrosis in the UK, and this evidence has been used to develop social policy recommendations.
However, the influence of having cystic fibrosis on school outcomes and attainment has not been explored at a population level.
Our study will clarify these issues and will focus particularly on exploring potential differences in effects experienced by children from different socio-economic backgrounds.
We will use demographic information, and GP and hospital records along with data on education for all children with CF in Wales as well as for a matched control group of healthy children.