Reduced Socioeconomic Disparities in Cleft Care After Implementing a Cleft Nurse Navigator Program.

TitleReduced Socioeconomic Disparities in Cleft Care After Implementing a Cleft Nurse Navigator Program.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWagner C, Zimmerman CE, Barrero C, Kalmar CL, Butler P, Guevara J, Bartlett SP, Taylor JA, Folsom N, Swanson JW
JournalCleft Palate Craniofac J
Date Published2021 Apr 07

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of a Cleft Nurse Navigator (CNN) program on care for patients with cleft lip and cleft palate and assess the programs efficacy to reduce existing socioeconomic disparities in care.

DESIGN: Retrospective review and outcomes analysis (n = 739).

SETTING: Academic tertiary care center.

PATIENTS: All patients presenting with cleft lip and/or cleft palate (CL/P) born between May 2009 and November 2019 with exclusions for atypical clefts, submucous cleft palates, international adoption, and very late presentation (after 250 days of life).

INTERVENTIONS: Multidisciplinary care coordination program facilitated by the CNN.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient age at first outpatient appointment and age at surgery, reported feeding issues, weight gain, and patient-cleft team communications.

RESULTS: After CNN implementation, median age at outpatient appointment decreased from 20 to 16 days ( = .021), volume of patient-cleft team communications increased from 1.5 to 2.8 ( < .001), and frequency of reported feeding concerns decreased (50% to 35%; < .001). In the pre-CNN cohort, nonwhite and publicly insured patients experienced delays in first outpatient appointment ( < .001), cleft lip repair ( < .011), and cleft palate repair ( < .019) compared to white and privately insured patients, respectively. In the post-CNN cohort, there were no significant differences in first appointment timing by race nor surgical timing on the basis of racial identity nor insurance type.

CONCLUSIONS: A variety of factors lead to delays in cleft care for marginalized patient populations. These findings suggest that a CNN can reduce disparities of access and communication and improve early feeding in at-risk cohorts.

Alternate JournalCleft Palate Craniofac J
PubMed ID33823655