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A new Korean study explored how household income influences healthcare utilization by children living with allergies. It found that those from higher socioeconomic status and children older than 13 years were more likely to seek help with allergies.

In the last few decades, the incidence of allergies has risen considerably in low- and middle-income nations. Thus, there has been a significant increase in cases of asthma. Most allergies are first diagnosed during childhood. This study was done in Korea and looked into the impact of socioeconomic status on healthcare utilization by children living with allergies. In Korea, a trend toward a higher prevalence of allergic diseases across all age groups beyond school-age children has occurred. This is particularly true for asthma and atopic dermatitis. 

Health disparities are a global issue, and social determinants are among the leading causative factors. Despite the rising interest in health disparities, studies of children’s diseases are inadequately explored. This retrospective study, published in the journal Healthcare, explores how socioeconomic status may affect child healthcare utilization.

Children From Lower Socioeconomic Status are Less Likely to Seek Medical Help for Allergies

The study analyzed the results of the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) from 2015 to 2019. Researchers focused on two kinds of allergic diseases: allergic asthma and atopic dermatitis. They looked at healthcare utilization data and further analyzed the socioeconomic status of the parents. They divided all the patients into four groups (Q1 to Q4), depending on their socioeconomic status. 

This study involved 3250 participants, of whom 67.9% were diagnosed with allergic asthma and 32.1% with atopic dermatitis. They found that children with atopic dermatitis over 13 years of age were more likely to utilize healthcare. However, more importantly, the study found that those belonging to the highest socioeconomic group, Q4, were also more likely to utilize healthcare for both allergic asthma and atopic dermatitis than other groups. The study found a linear increase in healthcare utilization for allergies along with rising socioeconomic status. Consequently, the study found better healthcare utilization in urban areas than in rural areas.

The Bottom Line

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The present study confirmed that socioeconomic status significantly impacts healthcare utilization by those living with allergies. To reduce this disparity, there is a need to introduce policies that target individuals of lower socioeconomic status. There is also a need to ensure that parents seek timely help for young children with allergies, as the study shows that those older than 13 years are more likely to seek help.


Kim, J., Kim, B., Kim, D. H., Kim, Y., & Rajaguru, V. (2023). Association between Socioeconomic Status and Healthcare Utilization for Children with Allergic Diseases: Korean National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (2015–2019). Healthcare, 11(4), 492. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11040492