A National Study of the Effect of Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Gender on Burn Outcomes

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Abstract

Age, burn size, and inhalation injury are the major contributing variables related to burn mortality. While the female gender has been linked to higher mortality, the impact of socioeconomic status has not been well studied. The interplay between these three factors is also unknown. This study sought to clarify the effects of these variables on outcomes in a national sample of patients with burns. A retrospective review of 172,640 patient records of the National Burn Repository (version 8, 2002–2011) data was conducted. Of those records, 36,960 (21.4%) patient entries were excluded for duplicate entries, follow-up visits, readmissions, nonburn injuries, skin diseases, and incompleteness (missing date of admission, date of discharge, race, or TBSA of burn or TBSA). Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare outcomes by race (Caucasian, African-American, and other minority groups). P < .05 was considered significant. The study group included 135,680 patients and was predominately Caucasian (59.0% Caucasian, 19.0% African-American, and 22.0% other minority groups). The African-American race had more females, operations, longer length of stay, ventilator days, septicemia (all P < .001), and urinary tract infections (UTIs, P < .01). Caucasians had the largest burns (9.27 ± 13.22, P <.001) and were more likely to be older, to be intubated, and to have longer intensive care unit stays and higher mortality (all P < .001). Other non-African-American minorities (other minority group) had the second largest burn sizes, most uninsured members, and lowest mortality (P < .001). On multivariate analysis, mortality was related to African-American race, female gender, TBSA, full-thickness burn injury, inhalation injury, uninsured status, and burn mechanism. African-Americans were 50% more likely to have complications (P < .001), 30% more likely to have UTIs (P = .002), and 41% more likely to get septicemia (P < .001). Other racial minority groups had more acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonias, septicemia, UTIs, length of stay, and hospital charges when compared with Caucasian patients. Socioeconomic status was related to mortality but inconsistently related to other outcomes. Race appears to play a significant role in burn injury outcomes. Minority groups, especially African-Americans, have a higher risk of morbidity and mortality compared with Caucasian patients with burns. Socioeconomic status and gender also play a significant role in burn outcomes. Future studies should focus on delineating the reasons for this disparity.

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