Decomposing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Use of Postacute Rehabilitation Care

Authors

  • George M. Holmes Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Health Policy & Management, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • Janet K. Freburger Ph.D.,

    1. Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, Institute on Aging, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
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  • Li-Jung E. Ku Ph.D., M.P.P.

    1. Department of Health Policy & Management, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
    2. Institute of Gerontology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan City, Taiwan
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Address correspondence to George M. Holmes, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy & Management, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; e-mail: mark_holmes@unc.edu.

Abstract

Objective

To determine the degree to which racial and ethnic disparities in the use of postacute rehabilitation care (PARC) are explained by observed characteristics.

Data Sources

State inpatient databases (SIDs) for 2005 and 2006 from four diverse states were used to identify patients with stays for joint replacement, stroke, or hip fracture.

Study Design

Our primary outcomes were use of institutional PARC (versus discharge home) and, conditional on discharge to an institution, skilled nursing facility (versus inpatient rehabilitation facility) care. We modified the Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition method to account for the dichotomous outcome and multilevel nature of the data.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods

Discharges from the four SIDs were included if the principal diagnosis (stroke, hip fracture) or procedure (joint replacement) was in the sample inclusion criteria.

Principal Findings

Observed characteristics explained roughly half of the unadjusted differences in use of institutional PARC. Patient-level factors (clinical, age) were more explanatory of disparities in institutional PARC use, while hospital-level factors were more explanatory of skilled nursing facility versus inpatient rehabilitation facility care.

Conclusions

Adjustment for characteristics influencing PARC use both mitigated and exacerbated racial/ethnic disparities in use. The degree to which the characteristics explained the disparity varied across conditions and outcomes.

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