Impact of patient race on receiving head CT during blunt head injury evaluation

Acad Emerg Med. 2005 Sep;12(9):862-8. doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2005.05.003.


Objectives: Prior evidence suggests that physicians may alter process of care based on race/ethnicity. The objective of this study was to determine whether race/ethnicity predicts whether a patient receives computed tomography of the head (head CT) during evaluation of blunt head injury.

Methods: This was a nonconcurrent cohort study set in an emergency department of a Level 1 trauma center in a university medical center. Consecutive patients presenting with blunt head injury from January 2000 to December 2000 were enrolled. The main outcome measure was whether or not a patient received head CT during evaluation of blunt head injury.

Results: The unadjusted probability of receiving head CT was similar among minority (33.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 30.0% to 38.1%) and non-Hispanic white patients (36.4%; 95% CI = 33.5% to 39.3%). After adjusting for important clinical and socioeconomic predictors, minority patients had a probability of receiving head CT 0.84 times as high as that of non-Hispanic whites, but this result was not statistically significant (95% CI = 0.67 to 1.09).

Conclusions: Minority and non-Hispanic white patients may not have significantly different rates of receiving head CT during evaluation of blunt head injury. A multicenter prospective study is necessary to confirm these preliminary findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Head Injuries, Closed / diagnostic imaging*
  • Head Injuries, Closed / ethnology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • Risk
  • Socioeconomic Factors