Racial/ethnic differences in obesity and comorbidities between safety-net- and non safety-net integrated health systems

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Abstract

Previous research shows that patients in integrated health systems experience fewer racial disparities compared with more traditional healthcare systems. Little is known about patterns of racial/ethnic disparities between safety-net and non safety-net integrated health systems.

We evaluated racial/ethnic differences in body mass index (BMI) and the Charlson comorbidity index from 3 non safety-net- and 1 safety-net integrated health systems in a cross-sectional study. Multinomial logistic regression modeled comorbidity and BMI on race/ethnicity and health care system type adjusting for age, sex, insurance, and zip-code-level income

The study included 1.38 million patients. Higher proportions of safety-net versus non safety-net patients had comorbidity score of 3+ (11.1% vs. 5.0%) and BMI ≥35 (27.7% vs. 15.8%). In both types of systems, blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to have higher BMIs. Whites were more likely than blacks or Hispanics to have higher comorbidity scores in a safety net system, but less likely to have higher scores in the non safety-nets. The odds of comorbidity score 3+ and BMI 35+ in blacks relative to whites were significantly lower in safety-net than in non safety-net settings.

Racial/ethnic differences were present within both safety-net and non safety-net integrated health systems, but patterns differed. Understanding patterns of racial/ethnic differences in health outcomes in safety-net and non safety-net integrated health systems is important to tailor interventions to eliminate racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care.

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