Insurance Status & Race Affect Treatment & Outcome of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects 1.7 million Americans every year, contributing to chronic health complications, which may include cognitive and psychosocial impairments. Demographic studies suggest that black people and those of low socioeconomic status (regardless of race) are more likely to sustain a TBI, but there is a lack of conclusive research on the impact of race and socioeconomic status after a TBI has been sustained.
To address this lack of research, a recent study examined the effect of race/ethnicity and health insurance standing on TBI outcomes, such as mortality rates and length of hospital stay. A group of researchers in Wisconsin reviewed data from the National Trauma Data Bank, analyzing demography and injury statistics to determine this relationship. After analysis of 187,354 records of people with TBI, the researchers found that:
- Compared to white patients, black and Hispanic patients were more likely to undergo medical procedures related to TBI.
- Black and Hispanic patients typically remained in hospice for more time after sustaining TBI, though both groups were less likely to die in the hospital.
- Black patients were more likely and Hispanics less likely to be discharged to rehabilitation post-TBI.
- Compared to patients with private insurance, uninsured TBI patients typically were less likely to undergo a TBI-related medical procedure, remained in hospice for more time after injury, and were less likely to participate in rehabilitation programs.
TBI is a significant public health concern in the United States, yet specific demographic outcomes are rarely considered during patient treatment and discharge. The results of this study indicate that race, ethnicity and insurance coverage considerably impact patients’ post-TBI health outcomes, and clinicians should be advised to account for these factors during patient treatment.
Source: McQuistion K, Zens T, Jung HS, et al. Insurance status and race affect treatment and outcome of traumatic brain injury. The Journal of Surgical Research. (September 2016).
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