Racial and Gender Differences in Use of Procedures for Black and White Hospitalized Adults

Ethn Dis. Spring-Summer 1997;7(2):91-105.


A number of studies have found that blacks and females with coronary heart disease are less likely to undergo major diagnostic and therapeutic procedures than whites and males, even after controlling for severity of illness and other indicators of physical condition. This investigation examined 78 conditions treated in acute care hospitals to identify possible variations in medical treatment by race and gender among blacks and whites. The study is unique in examining such a wide range of conditions and in using an all-payer national sample. The study examines over 1.7 million inpatient discharge abstracts from the Hospital Cost and Utilization Project, a national sample of about 500 hospitals in the United States. Logistic regression modeling was used to describe the influence of race and gender among blacks and whites on the likelihood of having a major therapeutic or major diagnostic procedure, controlling for patient age, disease severity, health insurance and hospital-level characteristics. The study found that blacks were less likely than whites to receive major therapeutic procedures in 37 of 77 (48%) conditions, and females were less likely than males to receive major therapeutic procedures for 32 of 62 (52%) conditions. The proportion of conditions in which blacks and females were less likely to receive a major diagnostic procedure (without a major therapeutic procedure) was 21% and 26%, respectively. This study identified a number of conditions with apparent variations in medical treatment by race or gender among blacks and whites that should be targeted for more detailed investigations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / statistics & numerical data
  • United States