Objective: To estimate how much of the gap in appendicitis perforation rates between minority and white children is explained by differences in socioeconomic and insurance factors.
Design: Observational analysis of hospital discharge information.
Setting: The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project database.
Participants: Appendicitis perforation rates determined from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project database of hospital discharges from 2001 to 2008.
Main outcome measures: The proportion of the gap between perforation rates explained by various patient- and hospital-level variables.
Results: There were no disparities observed in adult appendicitis perforation rates. The perforation rate for white children was 26.7%; black children, 35.5%; and Latino children, 36.5%. Gap analysis showed that only 12.0% of the difference in perforation rates between black and white children was explained by insurance status and only 12.7% of the difference between Latino and white children was explained. Income level only accounted for 7.2% of the gap for black children and 6.1% for Latino children. Age explained one-third of the gap for Latino children and one-third was not accounted for by measurable variables. Two-thirds of the difference between appendicitis perforation rates between black and white children was not explained by measurable factors.
Conclusions: A very small amount of the gap between minority and white children's appendicitis rates is explained by the proxy factors for health insurance and poverty status that might relate to health care access. Appendicitis perforation rates are not an appropriate indicator of health care access.