Skip to main content
Low Socioeconomic Status Is Associated with Worse Survival in Children with Cancer: A Systematic Review
PLOS One (2014)
  • Sumit Gupta
  • Marta Wilejto, Western University
  • Jason D Pole
  • Astrid Guttmann
  • Lillian Sung
While low socioeconomic status (SES) has been associated with inferior cancer outcome among adults, its impact in pediatric oncology is unclear. Our objective was therefore to conduct a systematic review to determine the impact of SES upon outcome in children with cancer.
We searched Ovid Medline, EMBASE and CINAHL from inception to December 2012. Studies for which survival-related outcomes were reported by socioeconomic subgroups were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently assessed articles and extracted data. Given anticipated heterogeneity, no quantitative meta-analyses were planned a priori.
Of 7,737 publications, 527 in ten languages met criteria for full review; 36 studies met final inclusion criteria. In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), lower SES was uniformly associated with inferior survival, regardless of the measure chosen. The majority of associations were statistically significant. Of 52 associations between socioeconomic variables and outcome among high-income country (HIC) children, 38 (73.1%) found low SES to be associated with worse survival, 15 of which were statistically significant. Of the remaining 14 (no association or high SES associated with worse survival), only one was statistically significant. Both HIC studies examining the effect of insurance found uninsured status to be statistically associated with inferior survival.
Socioeconomic gradients in which low SES is associated with inferior childhood cancer survival are ubiquitous in LMIC and common in HIC. Future studies should elucidate mechanisms underlying these gradients, allowing the design of interventions mediating socioeconomic effects. Targeting the effect of low SES will allow for further improvements in childhood cancer survival.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Sumit Gupta, Marta Wilejto, Jason D Pole, Astrid Guttmann, et al.. "Low Socioeconomic Status Is Associated with Worse Survival in Children with Cancer: A Systematic Review" PLOS One (2014)
Available at: