Race and sex based disparities in sepsis

Heart Lung. 2022 Mar-Apr:52:37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2021.11.001. Epub 2021 Nov 24.


Background: Studies of sepsis evaluating sex- and race-related disparities in treatment and outcome have been limited by using administrative databases, which may not adequately capture sepsis diagnosis, used limited number and types of races, or not included both sex and race in the analyses.

Objective: To determine if patients of different races and sexes with sepsis have different mortality, receipt of mechanical ventilation or renal replacement therapy, or time to antibiotics?

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed clinical data from 34,999 patients with sepsis, defined by Sepsis-3 criteria, using logistic regression and linear regression.

Results: After adjustments for confounders, Asian females had the lowest adjusted 90-day mortality (OR=0.656, 95% CI=0.385-1.118, p<0.001 compared to White males). Similarly, compared to White males, African-American males had a lower adjusted mortality (OR=0.790, 95% CI=0.648-0.963, p = 0.019), while Asian males (OR=1.185, 95% CI=0. 828-1.696, p = 0.354) and both African-American (OR=0.972, 95% CI=0.800-1.182, p = 0.779) and Caucasian (OR=1.054, 95% CI=0.960-1.158, p = 0.270) females had similar mortality. Both male and female patients with Other/unknown race had higher mortality (OR=1.776, 95% CI=1.395-2.261, p<0.001 and OR=1.658, 95% CI=1.359-2.021, p<0.001), respectively. In the secondary analyses for new-onset mechanical ventilation and new-onset renal replacement therapy post-sepsis, we found no association between any of the race-sex groups and receipt of these therapies.

Conclusion: We found that Asian females had the lowest adjusted 90-day mortality for patients with sepsis. Understanding the reasons for disparities in outcome after sepsis may improve care and outcomes in diverse populations.

Keywords: Disparities; Mortality; Race; Sepsis; Sex.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racial Groups
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis*
  • United States / epidemiology