NY Times Summarizes the reasons why Canadians with Cystic Fibrosis Live Longer: Link: Canadians With Cystic Fibrosis Live 10 Years Longer Than Americans With the Disease
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that causes recurrent lung infections and other problems. The average lifespan for an American with the illness is 37 years. In Canada, it is 49.
Researchers studied records of 5,941 Canadian and 45,448 American cystic fibrosis patients between 1990 and 2013. After controlling for severity of disease, age and other factors, they found that overall death rates were 34 percent lower in Canada than in the United States.
There was no difference in death rates between Canadians and Americans with private health insurance. But Canada provides universal health care coverage under a single-payer system, so every Canadian has some kind of health insurance. The Canadian death rate was 44 percent lower than that of Americans on Medicaid or Medicare, and 77 percent lower than Americans without insurance.
AL Stephenson et al. Ann Intern Med. 2017. DOI: 10.7326/M16-0858
Background:In 2011, the median age of survival of patients with cystic fibrosis reported in the United States was 36.8 years, compared with 48.5 years in Canada. Direct comparison of survival estimates between national registries is challenging because of inherent differences in methodologies used, data processing techniques, and ascertainment bias.
Objective:To use a standardized approach to calculate cystic fibrosis survival estimates and to explore differences between Canada and the United States.
Setting:42 Canadian cystic fibrosis clinics and 110 U.S. cystic fibrosis care centers.
Patients:Patients followed in the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Registry (CCFR) and U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry (CFFPR) between 1990 and 2013.
Measurements:Cox proportional hazards models were used to compare survival between patients followed in the CCFR (n = 5941) and those in the CFFPR (n = 45 448). Multivariable models were used to adjust for factors known to be associated with survival.
Results:Median age of survival in patients with cystic fibrosis increased in both countries between 1990 and 2013; however, in 1995 and 2005, survival in Canada increased at a faster rate than in the United States (P < 0.001). On the basis of contemporary data from 2009 to 2013, the median age of survival in Canada was 10 years greater than in the United States (50.9 vs. 40.6 years, respectively). The adjusted risk for death was 34% lower in Canada than the United States (hazard ratio, 0.66 [95% CI, 0.54 to 0.81]). A greater proportion of patients in Canada received transplants (10.3% vs. 6.5%, respectively [standardized difference, 13.7]). Differences in survival between U.S. and Canadian patients varied according to U.S. patients’ insurance status.
Limitation:Ascertainment bias due to missing data or nonrandom loss to follow-up might affect the results.
Conclusion:Differences in cystic fibrosis survival between Canada and the United States persisted after adjustment for risk factors associated with survival, except for private-insurance status among U.S. patients. Differential access to transplantation, increased posttransplant survival, and differences in health care systems may, in part, explain the Canadian survival advantage.
Primary Funding Source:U.S. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.