Racial and ethnic disparities in hospitalizations and deaths associated with 2009 pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) virus infections in the United States

Ann Epidemiol. 2011 Aug;21(8):623-30. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.03.002.

Abstract

Purpose: Concerns have been raised regarding possible racial-ethnic disparities in 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) (pH1N1) illness severity and health consequences for U.S. minority populations.

Methods: Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Emerging Infections Program Influenza-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance, and Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality Surveillance, we calculated race-ethnicity-specific, age-adjusted rates of self-reported influenza-like illness (ILI) and pH1N1-associated hospitalizations. We used χ(2) tests to evaluate racial-ethnic disparities in ILI-associated health care-seeking behavior and pH1N1 hospitalization. To evaluate pediatric deaths, we compared racial-ethnic proportions of deaths against U.S. population distributions.

Results: Prevalence of self-reported ILI was lower among Hispanics (6.5%), higher among American Indians/Alaska Natives (16.2%), and similar among non-Hispanic blacks (7.7%) compared with non-Hispanic whites (8.5%). No racial-ethnic differences were identified in ILI-associated health care-seeking behavior. Age-adjusted pH1N1-associated Emerging Infections Program hospitalization rates were higher among all minority populations (range: 8.1-10.9/100,000 population) compared with non-Hispanic whites (3.0/100,000). The proportion of pH1N1-associated pediatric deaths was higher than expected among Hispanics (31%) and lower than expected among non-Hispanic whites (45%) given the proportions of the U.S. population they comprise (22% and 58%, respectively).

Conclusions: Racial-ethnic disparities in pH1N1-associated hospitalizations and pediatric deaths were identified. Vaccination remains the primary intervention for preventing influenza.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype*
  • Influenza, Human / ethnology*
  • Influenza, Human / mortality*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult