Racial and ethnic differences in health care utilization for childhood eczema: An analysis of the 2001-2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys

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Abstract

Background

Eczema is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the skin. Studies suggest differences in disease prevalence and severity by race/ethnicity. Our knowledge of health care utilization for eczema among different racial/ethnic groups remains limited.

Objective

To evaluate health care utilization for childhood eczema among different racial/ethnic groups in the United States.

Methods

We performed a cohort study of non-Hispanic white (reference), non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic white individuals under the age of 18 years with caregiver-reported eczema (N = 2043) pooled from the 2-year longitudinal cohorts of the 2001-2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. Health care utilization outcomes were evaluated over the 2-year follow-up period by race/ethnicity using multivariable regression.

Results

Among all children with eczema, non-Hispanic blacks were less likely than whites to report an ambulatory visit for eczema (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj] 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51-0.92). Among those with ≥1 ambulatory visit for eczema, non-Hispanic blacks reported more visits (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRRadj] 1.68; 95% CI 1.10-2.55) and prescriptions (IRRadj 1.22; 95% CI 1.01-1.46) than whites and were more likely than whites to report a dermatology visit (ORadj 1.82; 95% CI 1.06-3.14) for eczema.

Limitations

We used caregiver- or self-reported data.

Conclusion

Our findings suggest disparities in health care utilization for eczema among non-Hispanic black children despite utilization patterns suggestive of more severe disease.

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