White Nursing Home Residents Less Likely Than Blacks To Be Hospitalized, Study Finds
Black nursing home residents are more likely than their white counterparts to be hospitalized for conditions such as dehydration, poor nutrition and bedsores, according to a study to be published in the June issue of the journal Health Services Research, the Washington Post reports. Lead study author Andrea Gruneir and other researchers affiliated with the Brown University Albert Medical School examined data from 2000 on more than 500,000 nursing home residents in 9,000 facilities across the U.S. (Spinner, Washington Post, 1/15).
According to the study, 18.5% of white nursing home residents were hospitalized in 2000, compared with 24.1% of black residents. Those in nursing homes with high populations of black residents were 20% more likely to be hospitalized than those in facilities with no black residents (Gruneir et al., Health Services Research, OnlineEarly Articles).
Residents in nursing homes that were very reliant on Medicaid funding, had lower patient-to-employee ratios, or did not have a nurse practitioner or medical director were more likely than others to be hospitalized, according to Susan Miller, associate professor of community health at Brown University's Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research. Miller added that the poorest residents were most likely to be hospitalized.
Gruneir said, "The percentage of residents who had to be hospitalized was strongly correlated with the residents on Medicaid, which also was strongly tied to facilities with limited resources."
The study concluded that the racial disparities could be reduced by providing more resources to nursing homes that heavily rely on Medicaid funding, the Post reports.
Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, said, "Nursing homes in this country have a serious deficiency in quality, and studies have shown that African-Americans are more likely to get the worst care," adding, "We think it's a civil rights issue." She also said that having a high proportion of residents covered by Medicaid does not necessarily predict the quality of care, adding, "A lot of nursing homes with Medicaid residents are good nursing homes. We see them all over the country" (Washington Post, 1/15).
An abstract of the study is available online.