A disparities-themed edition of Health Affairs includes three studies highlighting evidence of disparities among hospitals, trauma centers and nursing homes.
Healthcare disparities seen for rural, minority and Medicaid patients
One study in the October issue found that the country's highest-quality hospitals serve fewer elderly black patients (PDF) (7%) than did the worst (15%) hospitals. Disparities also were found for elderly Hispanic and Medicaid patient populations. "As policymakers design national programs aimed at managing the quality and costs of healthcare, it is important to understand the potential impact on minority and poor patients and the hospitals that provide most of their care," the authors wrote in an abstract.
Another study found that trauma-center closings are increasing and that this has a disproportionate effect on disadvantaged communities (PDF). "Our findings provide evidence that poor and African-American communities and rural residents are disproportionately affected by deteriorating trauma-care access," the authors of that study wrote.
Results from a third study indicate that despite some improvement, black nursing-home residents are less likely to receive a flu vaccination (PDF). The study of 2006-'09 data found that 78% of blacks received a flu shot in the 2008-09 season, compared with 83% of whites. The numbers were not much different from the 2007-'08 period, which were slightly better than 2006-'07 results. "Strategies are needed to ensure that facilities offer vaccination to all residents and to make vaccination more acceptable to black residents and their families," the authors wrote in an abstract.
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