US Blacks, Hispanics Less Likely to Get Neurological Care in Doctor’s Offices and Clinics

US Blacks, Hispanics Less Likely to Get Neurological Care in Doctor’s Offices and Clinics

African- and Hispanic-Americans are less likely than whites to receive care for neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis in a doctor’s office or clinic, according to a study.

Many of them end up in a hospital emergency room after failing to obtain treatment that could have helped them avoid an emergency, researchers said.

The study, “Racial disparities in neurologic health care access and utilization in the United States,” was published in Neurology.

Researchers used eights years of neurological-condition information in their study. They obtained it from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national database maintained by the Agency for Healthcare and Quality Research.

Almost 17,000 of the 279,103 people who participated in the survey said they had a neurological  condition such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a cerebrovascular disease or epilepsy. Researchers then looked at where the patients obtained their care.

African-Americans were 30 percent less likely than whites, and Hispanic-Americans 40 percent less like, to see a neurologist in a doctor’s office or clinic. The data were adjusted for other variables that could have influenced the results, including patients’ ability to obtain access to care, income, health status and insurance status.

Another finding was that African-Americans were more likely to receive care in an emergency room than Hispanics or whites. For every 100 people receiving neurological care, African-Americans made 12.6 emergency room visits to receive it. The figures for Hispanics and whites were 7.7 visits per 100 people.

African-Americans also had more hospital stays than Hispanics and whites. The figures for African-Americans were 9.4 hospital stays for every 100 people receiving neurological care, versus 4.7 stays for Hispanics and 4.5 for whites.

Unsurprisingly, African-Americans’ hospital expenses were higher: an average of $1,485, versus $599 for whites.

“Our findings demonstrate that there are substantial racial and ethnic disparities in neurologic health care access and utilization in the United States,” Dr. Altaf Saadi, the author of the study, said in a press release. He is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“These disparities are concerning not only because racial and ethnic minorities represent 28 percent of Americans, but because all Americans should have equitable access to health care, regardless of who they are, where they live, or what resources they have.” Saadi added.

Several factors could be at play in minorities’ ability to obtain care in doctor’s offices and clinics, the researchers said. These include cultural beliefs about disease and aging, the language obstacle that non-English speakers face in obtaining care, and the locations of hospital neurology services.

Researchers cautioned that study results did not include nursing homes, prisons and other institutional settings that include many patients with neurological conditions.

Additional studies are needed to try to increase equity in care, the team said.

“Solutions could include initiatives to education hospital staff about bias and multicultural care, increase the proportion of underrepresented minorities in the field of neurology, improve patient education about neurologic disorders and change institutional practices to provide more equitable care,” Saadi concluded.

One comment

  1. Agnes Weessies says:

    It depends on where you are taking your samples from. Here in Orlando Florida, when my son for the second time went to the emergency room, was finally diagnosed with MS was the start of the nightmare. It was a sweet and think the world of this nurse, African American nurse, that told us the second day in the hospital, “It would be really easy to get care and medicaid if you paint your son brown and change his name to Sanchez!” My son is 6’6″ tall glow in the dark white with blue eyes. We are Scandinavian. As I said it depends on where you are taking your samples from. I know from spending a very long time volunteering in the neurological rehab unit that it came down not to race, but who had insurance to begin with. Sad to many people who present with the symptoms have lost their jobs and have no insurance, or can’t work to begin with and have no insurance. It’s those people with no insurance, that despite any race, religion, gender, language, temperament, etc do not get the help they desperately need. They go from being vital to invalid because the system is tacked against them. Redo your study! New variables are needed. I fought the system and got my son the help and medicaid he needed. Not because I was white, but because I was a pure 24K pit bull not taking crap, B**ch that prevailed and wore the system down. I’ve since helped many no matter what group you want to designate for them, to make their way through the system. Want to find out more, email me.

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