Sociodemographic disparities in survival from colorectal cancer in South Australia: a population-wide data linkage study

Thumbnail Image
Beckmann, Kerri R
Bennett, Alice L
Young, Graeme Paul
Cole, Stephen Russell
Joshi, Rohit
Adam, Jacqui
Singhai, Nimit
Karapetis, Christos Stelios
Wattchow, David Anthony
Roder, David
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
BioMed Central
Background: Inequalities in survival from colorectal cancer (CRC) across socioeconomic groups and by area of residence have been described in various health care settings. Few population-wide datasets which include clinical and treatment information are available in Australia to investigate disparities. This study examines socio-demographic differences in survival for CRC patients in South Australia (SA), using a population-wide database derived via linkage of administrative and surveillance datasets. Methods: The study population comprised all cases of CRC diagnosed in 2003-2008 among SA residents aged 50-79 yrs in the SA Central Cancer Registry. Measures of socioeconomic status (area level), geographical remoteness, clinical characteristics, comorbid conditions, treatments and outcomes were derived through record linkage of central cancer registry, hospital-based clinical registries, hospital separations, and radiotherapy services data sources. Socio-demographic disparities in CRC survival were examined using competing risk regression analysis. Results: Four thousand six hundred and forty one eligible cases were followed for an average of 4.7 yrs, during which time 1525 died from CRC and 416 died from other causes. Results of competing risk regression indicated higher risk of CRC death with higher grade (HR high v low =2.25, 95 % CI 1.32-3.84), later stage (HR C v A = 7.74, 95 % CI 5.75-10.4), severe comorbidity (HR severe v none =1.21, 95 % CI 1.02-1.44) and receiving radiotherapy (HR = 1.41, 95 % CI 1.18-1.68). Patients from the most socioeconomically advantaged areas had significantly better outcomes than those from the least advantaged areas (HR =0.75, 95 % 0.62-0.91). Patients residing in remote locations had significantly worse outcomes than metropolitan residents, though this was only evident for stages A-C (HR = 1.35, 95 % CI 1.01-1.80). These disparities were not explained by differences in stage at diagnosis between socioeconomic groups or area of residence. Nor were they explained by differences in patient factors, other tumour characteristics, comorbidity, or treatment modalities. Conclusions: Socio-economic and regional disparities in survival following CRC are evident in SA, despite having a universal health care system. Of particular concern is the poorer survival for patients from remote areas with potentially curable CRC. Reasons for these
Copyright © Beckmann et al. 2016 Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Colorectal cancer, Socio-demographic inequalities, Stage, Survival
Beckmann KR, Bennett A, Young GP, Cole SR, Joshi R, Adams J, Singhal N, Karapetis C, Wattchow D, Roder D. Sociodemographic disparities in survival from colorectal cancer in South Australia: a population-wide data linkage study. BMC Health Serv Res. 2016 Jan 20;16:24. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1263-3.